Archive for August 4th, 2010

Workplace Violence- Do the Innocent Victims Have Any Rights?

As is evidenced by the tragedy in Manchester, Conn., we hear news reports on an increasingly frequent basis about workplace violence resulting in injury or death to coworkers of a disgruntled employee. Workplace violence is a serious safety and health issue, which has been studied and resulted in the compilation of several strategies and warning signs of which employers are, or should be, aware to minimize the risk to all employees in the workplace. While there is no way to guarantee that an employee will not eventually become disgruntled and become dangerous to fellow employees, there are several steps which an employer must take to minimize the risk.

These start with simple steps such as thorough pre-employment screening to avoid hiring potentially violent people in the first place, to implementation of Progressive Disciplinary systems and performance evaluations which allow the employee to address and rectify issues before they become a larger problem. In predictably stressful situations, such as disciplinary hearings or terminations proceedings, employers should consider holding such meetings off site and with the presence of security in order to lessen the risk of violence. When an employer is or should be aware of the confrontational tendencies of an employee, yet does not address or take steps to enforce company anti-violence policies, that employer may be liable to injured co-workers who become innocent victims.

In order to avoid becoming a victim twice, workers and families of victims of workplace violence should seek legal advice to explore all options available to them. Reporting to work for an honest day’s wages should not be a life and death choice.