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Total Articles: 47

Practices and Policies for Preventing Workplace Violence

On August 24, 2017, a former employee entered a popular downtown Charleston, South Carolina restaurant, killed the executive chef, and held a person hostage for several hours, before being shot and injured by the police, ending the standoff. The victim was 37 years old and left behind a wife and two young children. The former employee who is accused of murder had an extensive criminal background, including violent crime, theft, and drug charges, as well as a history of mental illness, according to media reports.

Workplace Violence Occurring At Alarming Rate: Time For Employers To Be Proactive

It’s a news headline we’ve seen too often, including several times in recent weeks: another disgruntled employee or former employee has entered the workplace and killed or injured coworkers. What can you do to minimize the chances that your workplace will suffer such a tragedy?

Workplace Violence: How to Maintain a Safe Work Environment

The recent instances of violence in the workplace remind us of the complex task facing employers. Employers must maintain a safe work environment for employees while operating within the parameters of the many laws that protect employment interests. Reportedly, every year, approximately 2 million Americans fall victim to workplace violence.

Addressing Workplace Violence in Today’s Active Shooter Age

As a series of tragic events in recent years illustrate, employers must confront the reality that they are not immune from workplace violence, including the risk of active shooter events. While that challenge may seem daunting, there are certain steps employers can and should take to ensure their workplace and their employees are protected.

Guns and the Workplace

For some, just the mention of those words in the same sentence brings to mind a number of horrible scenarios. Others immediately bristle at the idea of perceived infringement of “my right to own a gun.” In between those two reactions are many more that range from fear of workplace violence to balancing Constitutionally protected rights with other concerns.

Should Rideshare Drivers be Allowed to Carry a Weapon?

A recent rash of attacks on Uber and Lyft drivers raises questions regarding the safety of these gig economy workers. Drivers must often work under dangerous circumstances, including chauffeuring complete strangers, many of whom are intoxicated and thus need a designated driver, to unfamiliar destinations at all times of the day and night.

Are Employers Acting on What They Learn from Mass Shootings

After every public shooting, we discuss how to prevent and better respond to the next active shooter, but each subsequent shooting event suggests we are not acting upon knowledge gained.

Active Shooters In The Workplace: Is The Hospitality Industry Ready

An armed gunman just entered the lobby of your hotel. He announces he is taking your front desk employees and nearby guests as hostages. An image on a security camera reveals that the gunman is a former bellman who was fired last week. What is the first thing you and your management team do?

How Employers Should Prep For Active Shooter Situations

Tragedy unfolded in Dallas last month at the hands of a lone sniper who ambushed and killed five police officers and wounded several others. While the nation mourns, the sad truth is that by the time this article is published, headlines from Dallas may well have been replaced by media coverage of the next similar event.

Active Shooter Situations: What Employers Can Do Before It’s Too Late

While last month’s massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shook the nation to its core, active shooter situations have become all too common in recent years. As also shown by the San Bernardino office holiday party rampage and other examples, this is an issue HR simply cannot afford to ignore.

When Tragedy Strikes: How Employers Can Assist Employees Affected by Mass Shootings and Disasters

In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, 49 innocent people lost their lives in a mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This mass shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history, has left the City of Orlando shaken, particularly members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), and Latino/a communities.

Employers Must Squarely Address The Mass Shooting Phenomenon

On April 20, 1999, a seed was planted in every workplace in this nation, one which has remained rather dormant for most of us until recently. That day, 13 people left their homes and entered Columbine High School – the aftermath is now at the doorsteps of every employer and cannot be ignored.

Workplace Violence In The News: How To Respond If A Worker Is Served With A Restraining Order

After yet another incident of workplace violence in the news, we have to consider that any employee served with a restraining order should be treated as a reason to take workplace security precautions. The shooter in the most recent workplace mass shooting, which took place in Kansas in late February 2016, started his shooting spree immediately after he was served with a restraining order while at the workplace. It is unknown whether the shooter had issues at work, or if the restraining order triggered his rampage and the workers were merely convenient targets.

Active Shooters in the Workplace: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

As recent events have made tragically clear, the number of active shooter events in the workplace seem to be becoming increasingly common. As a result, employers are struggling with how best to prepare their employees and protect the workplace in the event such a horrific situation occurs.

Workplace Violence Prevention in the Age of the ‘Active Shooter’

The tragic mass shootings in Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino, in three successive weeks, have had global reverberations. They have also left employers grappling with questions as to what measures they should take—or are legally obligated to take—to keep employees safe from harm in the workplace. A recurring question posed over the last three weeks has been “should we conduct active shooter training?”

HR Intel – HR is the First Line of Defense in the War Against Workplace Violence and More...

HR Intel PictureLast week’s mass murder at a Southern California office holiday party represents one of the worst workplace violence incidents in US history. Only the Ft. Hood shooting and the 1987 downing of a USAir passenger jet qualify as more severe. Given the severity and nature of the incident, the San Bernardino shooting (as it will come to be known) has far-reaching implications for employers, HR professionals and business owners everywhere. It could very well be a pivotal moment in workplace security.

Employers Reminded Of Workplace Violence Dangers

A new case on workplace violence in Missouri demonstrates the practical and legal challenges many employers face in today’s environment. The case shows the risk extends beyond violence by employees to violence by nonemployees – particularly in situations involving domestic abuse.

Workplace Violence Experts Urge Employers to Address Prevention, Training

Workplace violence experts are urging employers to take steps to address safety and security in the wake of high-profile incidents across the country. The Occupational Safety and Health Act specifically requires employers to maintain safe and healthful workplaces, making workplace violence prevention a compliance concern. However, because workplaces differ in terms of their susceptibility to a potential security threat, an employer should take steps that best address a site's particular risks.

Is Your Workplace Violence Plan Ready? 5 Essential Elements of a Comprehensive Plan

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one out of every six violent crimes occurs in the workplace. These crimes include assaults, rapes, robberies, and—on rare occasions—homicides. Employees, customers, and third-party individuals are increasingly acting out in ways that devastatingly alter their lives and the lives of their coworkers. These issues are particularly concerning in retail establishments as they are more accessible to the public than many other workplaces given their hours of operation and direct interaction with customers. A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that retail workers were disproportionately subjected to workplace violence. Although retail workers comprise 9 percent of the workforce in the United States, they account for 13 percent of all workplace violence incidents and an alarming 27 percent of all workplace homicides. Now, more than ever, retailers should consider implementing a comprehensive plan designed to both prevent and address violence in the workplace. A good workplace violence plan features five distinct elements.

Retailer’s Guide to Defending against Workplace Violence

Violence is a leading cause of workplace deaths in the last 15 years and causes 48 percent of worker deaths in the retail industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Virginia News Tragedy: Prevention & Readiness for Workplace Violence

Reportedly, more than 1,700,000 workers are injured annually as a result of workplace violence. We were recently reminded that disgruntled employees can be deadly. On August 26th, Vester Lee Flanagan, II murdered two of his former colleagues during a live news segment before taking his own life. This tragedy provides an opportune backdrop for employers to reassess preventative measures in place and disaster readiness in order to minimize the likelihood and impact of violence in the workplace.

Virginia Shooting Tragedy: What Employers Need to Know

On August 26, 2015, Vester Lee Flanagan, II shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two Roanoke, Virginia journalists. Much has been — and will continue to be — written regarding this incident from the perspective of how it relates to gun control, mental health, or race relations. While this incident is extreme and tragic, workplace violence is not uncommon. Employers must assess the preventative measures they have in place and their disaster readiness in order to minimize the likelihood and impact of violence in the workplace.

Troubling Workplace Questions Raised by Virginia Shootings

Are there any reasons why an employer would not talk about disruptive workplace behavior as part of a reference check? A reporter asked me that question in the wake of the Virginia shooting deaths of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.

Reminder of Challenges Associated with Workplace Violence Prevention

The August 26 shooting of two journalists by a former co-worker on live TV in Virginia is a stark reminder that a worker may become violent.

July 1 Deadline Approaching On New VAWA Regulations

Regulations interpreting the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) become effective for higher education institutions on July 1, 2015. Generally speaking, these regulations contain new reporting, policy, and training requirements for colleges and universities. Here is a brief summary of some of the most important new provisions.

Workplace Violence: Keeping Employees Safe

Cartoonists shot at work in Paris. Teachers killed while trying to protect their students in Newtown, Connecticut. A CEO shot in the head and stomach by a recently demoted employee in Illinois. News reports are filled with horrific tragedies occurring in workplaces around the world.

From The Schoolyard To The Teachers' Lounge: Cracking Down On Adult Bullying

Recent headlines confirm that the schoolyard bullies of yesteryear are all grown up and have joined the workforce – many of them in schools. Rather than taking place in the schoolyard or cafeteria, adult bullying is occurring in the teachers’ lounge and at faculty meetings. Reported cases of workplace bullying are increasing nationwide, grabbing the attention of the media and lawmakers. Being prepared to prevent, address and resolve bullying incidents among co-workers can help you avoid the hefty price tag that can result if you ignore bullies and do nothing.

When Employees Solve Problems With Their Fists

Generally speaking, human resources professionals and business executives have become quite adept at dealing with employee claims for illegal harassment. For example, just about any HR manager can provide a definition of a “hostile work environment.” Likewise, HR managers are keenly aware of what to do when handling workplace romantic relationships or inappropriate conduct that have the potential to generate a lawsuit.

Workplace Bullying: Will You Know It When You See It?

The media and political figures have paid increased attention to workplace bullying in recent months and years. A simple Google search can confirm this reality. Moreover, legislators in 21 states have introduced bills to address and combat workplace bullying, starting with California in 2003.

After The Violence Come The Lawsuits

A lawsuit filed against a business in Minneapolis, Minnesota demonstrates that the problems associated with workplace violence do not necessarily end once the violence stops. Recently, the family of one of six individuals slain at the interior signage company filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company, alleging that it was “grossly negligent” in handling the termination of an employee.

Bullying and My Predictive Abilities — New York at Risk

If there is anyone who started with me when I made my first post in July, 2002 you will know that one topic that has come up repeatedly is my watch on the movement to have some state enact an anti-bullying law. It is much easier now than in the early days, because of Professor David Yamada's Minding the Workplace Blog, which covers those developments regularly.

Retailers And Workplace Violence

Under OSHA’s general-duty clause, all employers have the obligation to maintain a safe workplace regardless of whether OSHA has adopted any particular standard relating to how the tasks at issue are to be performed. In the current administration, OSHA is showing a willingness to stretch the general-duty clause to cover a broader number of workplace-safety issues than ever before. One of those areas is workplace violence, whether internal among employees or external from a crime.

Weapons at Work – Solidify Policies Before Tragedy Strikes

As our nation struggles to comprehend the recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the national discourse has again turned to gun control. Employers must wrestle with the same basic issues present in the general debate – do you limit access to guns (at work) or hope self control rules the day? However employers resolve the big picture question of how they want to deal with weapons in the workplace, they must consider all the legal issues.

OSHA's New Initiative Against Workplace Violence

According to the latest statistics, an astounding two million workers in America are the victims of workplace violence each year, and workplace violence now ranks among the top four causes of workplace deaths. In 2010, 18 percent of U.S. workplace fatalities were the result of workplace violence. Compare that to 14 percent of U.S. workplace fatalities caused by falls.

Allegations of workplace violence or threats of violence may lead to an OSHA visit.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has written an enforcement directive for purposes of investigating and dealing with incidents of workplace violence. The directive, issued on September 8, 2011, will be used by OSHA’s district supervisors and area directors in determining whether or not to conduct an investigation into allegations of workplace violence, and includes inspection procedures that will be followed by the agency’s compliance officers while conducting such inspections. It also suggests various methods of abatement available to employers in workplace violence situations.

Workplace Violence Gains Formal OSHA Investigation Procedures

On September 8, OSHA issued Directive CPL 02-01-052, which for the first time establishes procedures for investigating workplace violence complaints.

Workplace Violence and Bullying -- How to Manage Employers' Risks.

While workplace violence and bullying are not necessarily new problems, they've garnered recent attention as the recession continues to take its psychological toll on workers.

When "Sabotgage" Becomes Illegal.

I continue to see a number of articles about the need for anti-bullying legislation, much to my dismay. When there is an article about it in the weekly Sunday supplement that's in my local newspaper, you know the movement is gaining traction. See Workplace Bullying: Do We Need a Law?

Bullying As a Cause of Action - One Large Step Closer.

As long time readers may remember, I have for a long time been concerned about a proposed cause of action for bullying. My first post about bullying goes all the way back to January 12, 2003, Newest Workplace Problem? Bullying?

Workplace Violence - The Necessity Of A Proactive Approach.

As more information about the perpetrators becomes available, we are hearing about several, all too familiar, warning signs of the men believed to be responsible for the recent shootings in Orlando, Florida and Killeen, Texas. This is a very appropriate time to refresh our memories about the types of behavior that should be cause for concern in the workplace.

Enforceability of Employer’s Prohibition on Firearms Rests Primarily on State Law.

Last month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Oklahoma laws supporting the right of individuals to possess firearms in locked vehicles on company property are not preempted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, and therefore are enforceable. That decision rested on the facts that the Oklahoma state statutes were instituted to regulate employees as members of the general public and not as “workers” and, therefore, that the statutes did not conflict with OSHA standards.

Workplace Bullying: A New Spin on an Old Theme.

In May 2008, the Indiana Supreme Court recognized a new legal phenomenon, workplace bullying, when it upheld a lower court's ruling that a surgeon was liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault for screaming, swearing at and advancing upon a coworker in the operating room.

Disney Defends Against Lawsuit Under New Gun Law.

If the National Rifle Association didn't know who Edwin Sotomayer was before, it probably does now. The former security guard for Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park could soon be a part of one of the biggest cases to address a citizen's right to keep and bear arms that the nation has ever seen.

Workplace Bullying - A New Dilemma For Employers.

When faced with an abusive, intimidating boss or co-worker, many people's thoughts take them back to the school ground when they first encountered a bully.

"Gun Fight" at the OK Courthouse.

With the rising concern about workplace violence over the last decade, many employers have adopted policies prohibiting guns in the workplace. Such policies generally prohibit employees, as well as third parties, from bringing firearms or other weapons onto company property, including company parking lots.

Odd Man Out?

You know the employee the caller is talking about. Quiet. Awkward. Intense. Coworkers avoid him. He makes you uncomfortable. He's "weird," the "odd duck" that everyone has ignored to date. The caller relays a rumor: he has a mental impairment and doesn't always take his medication. No one has complained about him before, but after the events at Virginia Tech, you've received calls from coworkers painting him as a ticking time bomb. Your employees are talking about him, escalating their concerns and infecting the work environment with a low-scale panic. They expect you to "do something."

The Tragedy of Virginia Tech - Lessons For The Workplace.

As more information becomes available, we are finding an all-too-familiar profile of the young man believed to be responsible for the recent shootings on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. This is a very appropriate time to refresh our memories about the kinds of behaviors which should be cause for concern on school campuses and around the office.
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