It’s important for HR professionals to know and understand the ramifications of workplace violence to reference not only on the human level, but also concerning employer’s workers compensation and liability coverage for such acts. Other legal issues loom large, too,
As an example, let’s say an employee, Jane, has a boyfriend, John, who the employer discovers has violent tendencies. Jane and John break up, and that ensues in domestic drama via a volley of phone calls during work hours. Jane’s co-worker, Karen, overhears a phone call whereby John threatens to come to the workplace and take revenge upon Jane and another employee of the company—Jack, who he suspects has been giving Jane relationship advice.
What’s HR to do, having received this information from Karen? Karen later does her own investigation via a public records search and finds that John has been convicted of numerous violent acts. Does this now change how you would address the situation?
Later, John comes into the workplace and, while chasing after Jane, accidentally shoots a customer of the employer. In his haste to leave the workplace, he knocks over a copy machine repairman and causes him debilitating injuries.
Susan is a bystander. At first you see her visibly shaken. Then you see her talking to the wall about her artwork that she has just sold to Carol. What’s going on?
These scenarios, which are hypotheticals here but can play out in real life, show the many ways that human, legal and insurance nightmares may flow from workplace violence. How do we minimize it? How do we respond to it?
Q1. What policies do you suggest implementing to help minimize the potential for violence in the workplace?
Q2. How have you trained supervisors to respond to actual or potential cases of workplace violence?
Q3. What are the risks of removing an employee who is the potential object of workplace violence? What are the risks of retaining?
Q4. What are pros/cons of requiring an employee to take a fitness-for-duty evaluation if you question their mental state?
Q5. How will workers’ compensation protect you from the financial costs of workplace violence?
Q6. How do you protect yourself from violence against nonemployees where workers’ comp will not apply?
Q7. When and how do you consider the criminal record of an employee when assessing the violence risk he or she may pose?
Q8. Why is it a mistake for managers to assume a violent person in the workplace will react rationally to reason?