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.
Articles Discussing Workplace Violence.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
On February 5, just after the lunch hour at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, the ex-wife of a popular public health professor entered the campus office where the professor conducted cancer research and shot him to death before she turned the gun on herself.