Tag Archives: workplace violence


What employers need to know to prevent workplace violence

Author Shayna Balch is a partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP.

Author Shayna Balch is a partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP.

Stories of workplace violence — from Mesa to Paris and just about every city in between — seem to be never ending. Which begs the question, “How can employers work to keep their workplaces safe?” While there are no ironclad solutions for preventing all workplace violence, employers and employees alike can take a number of proactive measures to keep violence at bay.

1. Create a no-violence action plan

Having a preventative plan in place, while providing all of your employees with information on how to deal with workplace violence, is essential when trying to curb violent situations from arising. Work with your HR team to draft a detailed policy on how your company defines workplace violence and how employees should and should not react to all violent situations. It is also recommended that you hold a practice drill each quarter so that people know what to do and where to go in case of specific emergencies. Distributing a step-by-step process of what to do, should a violet situation erupt, at each telephone and public gathering place throughout the building is another preventative measure to consider.

2. Consider additional security measures

As we’ve continually seen, workplace violence can happen anywhere and at any time. Attacks can be inflicted by someone who works for your organization or by an outside perpetrator who is mentally ill or has an ax to grind. Whatever the case, implementing some additional security measures can work to solve a host of problems. Work with an outside security consultant to determine what preventative resources might work best for your organization. Everything from additional cameras and security guards to self-defense training can be considered.

3. Prohibit firearms

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 1992 to 2010, there were 13,827 reported workplace homicide victims in the United States, averaging more than 700 victims per year. Unfortunately, a number of those homicides were committed with a firearm. Under Arizona state law, an employer may not institute a policy that restricts employees from lawfully storing a firearm if the firearm is both 1) in the employee’s locked and privately owned motor vehicle or in a locked compartment on the person’s privately owned motorcycle and 2) not visible from the outside of the motor vehicle. In other words, you can prohibit individuals from bringing weapons into your place of work, but you cannot prevent employees from having a legally possessed firearm in their privately owned motor vehicle for purposes of storage and/or transportation. Create a policy that incorporates these laws but still works to keep guns away from your employees.

4. Help manage workplace stress

Workplace demands and societal pressures can often get the best of an employee’s psyche, occasionally resulting in feelings of negativity and employer mistrust. The good news is that if you can provide your employees with the resources to deal with stress, it may benefit your organization a great deal. It is also helpful to create an environment in which employees are able to take adequate breaks for eating and occasional socializing. Encourage stretch breaks or suggest that the next weekly meeting take place during a walk around the building as opposed to in the boardroom. Most importantly, let your employees know that managing stress is something that your company encourages and supports on a consistent basis.

Flexible Workplaces

Arizona Employers Learn Workplace Violence Prevention

The Phoenix business community has already experienced several tragedies, with the first workplace shooting of the year in January, and the most recent incident involving a personal relationship issue erupting into another workplace shooting. Though the circumstances leading to these violent outbreaks differ, business owners and human resources professionals can learn from them and be prepared to prevent similar situations.

On Wednesday, June 5, expert speakers Dr. James Turner and Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC) staff attorney Dave Dixon will share a series of interactive vignettes designed to help employers to respond promptly, effectively and appropriately to inappropriate workplace behaviors that create disruption in the workplace, while also minimizing risks related to unlawful discrimination under the ADA, even as disability claims continue to rise. The workplace violence discussions and other significant employment and labor law trends and changes are part of this year’s Employment Law Update at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 W. Dunlap Ave., in Phoenix.

While violent behavior can manifest for many different reasons, mental illness is often a root cause. Employers must discern between abnormal but harmless behavior and the signs of a violent progression. MSEC, a leader in human resource and employment law services, helps employers understand the legal and psychological aspects of mental illness; identify warning signs of aggression; and ward off or respond to escalated incidents.

“Whether in the workplace, or society-at-large, failure to effectively manage conduct that may or may not be related to mental illness may bring consequences from simple organizational inefficiencies to the more tragic and violent consequences we have all too frequently seen,” said Dixon.

For more information about MSEC’s services or the Employment Law Update, visit www.msec.org.

For 70 years, MSEC has hosted educational events such as the Employment Law Update for employers throughout the Western United States to maintain productive employer/employee relationships and to build effective, successful businesses.