Violence in the Workplace

We all know that violence in the workplace has become more common and the results are almost always tragic.  With the ongoing political battles between gun rights groups and gun control groups, the issue is not likely to get resolved in a definitive way anytime soon.  What can an employer do to better protect the work place?  Here are a few suggestions:

Make it absolutely clear to your employees that neither violence nor the threat of violence in the workplace will not be tolerated and is grounds for immediate termination.  If your personnel manual or policies are not clear in that regard, make sure to make the appropriate changes including discussions with union personnel if appropriate.

  • Adhere to a zero tolerance policy for violence or threats of violence directed at any employee of the company.  Discharge is the only remedy for such behavior.  Use of police officers at the time of termination might be required if the circumstances dictate it.
  • Although it has a cost, doing criminal background checks on all new hires is becoming a more common practice.

Expect to be challenged in any discharge either through an unemployment process, NLRB process or even direct litigation.   Setting a good example by defending vigorously any or all such claims will do a lot to deter or eliminate future claims.  Word does spread on the manner in which a company responds to these types of events.

An interesting resource on workplace violence and prevention from a non-lawyer can be found here:

http://www.safetampabay.org/publications/WPViolence_2003.pdf

Above all, get good legal advice in advance of taking action, not after it is too late.  There are a number of steps to take that can mitigate or eliminate claims.  Prevention is always better than litigation!

© 2013 Hessian & McKasy P.A. Disclaimers