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Workplace Violence

No Match Letters
May 28, 2019
“In the summertime when the weather is hot …”
July 2, 2019

It’s happened again – another incident of workplace violence that left employees dead (in this case 12 people in Virginia Beach, plus 4 injured) and no one knows why the gunman opened fire on his co-workers.  As a business owner you cannot prevent random acts of violence from impacting your workplace, but there are some things that can be done to minimize the likelihood that your company will be next in the headlines.

  • Check references and run background checks when hiring new employees. LA Rev. Stat. Sec. 23:291 provides immunity for employers who provide factual information about former employees in “good faith.” Many other states have similar laws. Be honest about former employees when you are contacted for a reference by prospective employers. Failure to check references when hiring may also result in “negligent hiring” lawsuits if your employee commits a violent act in the workplace.
  • Prohibit workplace violence, including bullying and harassment, in your Code of Conduct for employees. Include procedures for reporting incidents and guarantee protection from retaliation.
  • Lead by example! Make sure that being a tough, demanding boss hasn’t crossed the line to becoming a bully. Treat employees with respect and create a workplace culture where people are not belittled, teased, or talked to in a demeaning way.
  • Address inappropriate behavior when it occurs. A one-time incident can become a habit if not corrected.  In serious situations, you may need to tell the abusive person (whether employee, customer, vendor or visitor) to leave the worksite.
  • Pay attention to employees who have difficulty managing their emotions (anger, frustration, depression). Encourage them to seek professional help through an insurance provider or community organization.
  • Employers may legally prohibit employees and others from bringing weapons into the workplace (some exceptions to weapons stored in personal vehicles parked on company property) even if they are lawfully permitted to carry weapons, however you should include this prohibition in your Employee Handbook and post notices at the worksite entrance(s.)
  • Secure access to the worksite. Lock external doors so that someone cannot enter without authorization. Provide adequate lighting in and around the worksite. When was the last time you checked to make sure lights were operational?  A comprehensive security audit can help you identify ways to improve safety for your employees.
  • Take threats seriously. When someone (employee – current or former, family or friend of an employee, customers, etc.) makes a credible threat to hurt someone or damage property – immediately report that threat to law enforcement.

An HR professional can help you with all of your human resources needs, from hiring the right employees, running background checks, creating employee handbooks that include anti-harassment policies and procedures, managing employee performance, staying legally compliant, automating employee records, and other related services you need to create an environment where employees can provide the tasks that you need to run your business.