Workplace Violence: The Basics



Unfortunately, incidents of violence and aggression in the workplace are not uncommon.  There are, however, tools an employer can utilize to ensure employees feel safe at work.  What follows are a general set of guidelines employers should always keep in mind:

Proper training:  Train managers and supervisors to identify potential triggers of violent behavior, such as substance abuse, history of violence or threats, severe personal stress, and/or fascination with weapons;

Develop and post a violence prevention policy:  Make it clear that your company does not tolerate threats of violence even if made in jest, and provide a safe and non-retaliatory environment for your employees to report incidents or threats of violence;

Don’t ignore threats of violence or harm:  Evaluate each and every threat of violence to determine what responsive action is necessary and appropriate.  All threats of violence should be reprimanded and documented in the employee files;

Take responsive action:  Appropriate responsive action depends on the specifics of each event, but may range from disciplining an employee to terminating him/her, increasing security on company premises, contacting law enforcement, changing locks and passwords and informing company personnel that certain people are not permitted on company premises; and

Consider legal action:  Employers may obtain a restraining order or injunction from court if a threat is credible.  To obtain such a court order, the threat to an employee does not need to come from another employee but can concern any person threatening employee safety at your company.

In a specific case of workplace violence or threat of violence, employers are encouraged to seek legal counsel to ensure that the offense is responded to properly and that employee safety is protected.