Steps for Employers to Address Workplace Violence

Steps for Employers to Address Workplace Violence

Recent tragedies around the country have focused attention on workplace violence.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 600 people per year are killed as a result of violence in the workplace.

While many workplace violence events simply cannot be prevented, it is important as an employer to consider what steps can be taken to minimize the risk of violence.

Provide training to employees. While many employers have zero-tolerance policies regarding workplace violence, not all employers train employees to detect warning of upcoming violent events.  Moreover, many employers fail to train employees on what to do if a violent event occurs.

Employers should spend the time to train employees on such issues and encourage employees to report any concerns they may have.

Consider the timing and circumstances for employee discipline. Most employers find it unpleasant or difficult to discipline or terminate an employee.  It is usually best to schedule these types of meetings for times when there are less employees in the facility.

Obviously, in the event of an adverse reaction by the affected employee, it is best to be in the proper environment.

However, the employer should not be alone in the facility when discipline is being administered.  Always consider the circumstances and timing when delivering bad news to an employee.

If you are concerned, ask for help. If your company has security, get them involved and have them available while discipline is being administered.

Similarly, in the absence of a security force, do not hesitate to call the local police and ask that they be available, even on the premises during the time of the disciplinary meeting.

Even after the disciplinary meeting, if you have any hint of an adverse reaction, consider asking the police to continue patrolling around your facility or think about hiring a private security firm for a limited period of time.

While hopefully nothing will happen as a result of implementing discipline, some preplanning is always the best course.

Trust your instincts. Never ignore your intuitions or feelings about potential danger.  If you have any suspicion that something is wrong or could go wrong, do not dismiss the feeling.

Unfortunately, workplace violence will never go away.  It is a topic that needs to be considered as seriously as any other workplace safety issue.


Kevin P. Murphy is an employment law attorney with Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell. He can be reached at or at (330) 392-1541.