Are you afraid one of your employees will go “postal”? 

Do you know what to do if this happens? More importantly, do you know what signs to look for so you can prevent violence in YOUR workplace? 

Each year, nearly two million U.S. workers report having been a victim of violence at work, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of annual workplace homicides at about 400. 

Threats, bullying, and intimidation are common causes of violence in the workplace affecting employees, customers, and vendors. 

So how do you recognize these causes
and stop them from turning into violent acts?

First and foremost, take immediate action when an employee is suddenly: 

  • disruptive, aggressive, or hostile, 
  • showing prolonged anger, 
  • holding grudges, 
  • hypersensitive to criticism, 
  • blaming others,
  • preoccupied with violence, or 
  • sad or withdrawn for a long period of time.

 

Second, if you are that employee’s manager, talk to them to see if you can help. If you are that employee’s co-worker, report what you observe to their manager. 

Third, if the behavior doesn’t improve, get Human Resources or upper management involved. 

Finally, if a crime has been or is about to be committed, call the police immediately. 

Case in point:  Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old man accused of shooting 13 Black individuals and killing 10 in a Buffalo, New York supermarket, previously had posted online thousands of lines of racist, antisemitic and often rambling remarks, including details on how he apparently planned and practiced for his attack. 

Employers and individual supervisors are potentially liable if they know or should know about conduct that may erupt into violence in the workplace and do nothing about it.  So you could be liable if Mr. Gendron was one of your employees, you knew about his online remarks, and you did nothing to try to stop him. 

To help prevent violence in your workplace: 

  1. Create a zero-tolerance policy concerning threats, bullying, and intimidation – both online and offline. 
  1. Always have an effective line of communication open. 
  1. Recognize behavioral cues and act on them. 
  1. Learn violence de-escalation techniques. 
  1. Conduct active-shooter and diversity training on a regular basis. 

If you have questions or need help creating a non-violence workplace policy, give us a call at 973-787-8442 or email us at arubin@alixrubinlaw.com.

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