Workplace Violence is Defined as
: "Any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide." Workplace violence can affect and involve employers, employees, clients, customers, and visitors!

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States categorizes workplace violence into four types:

  1. Criminal Intent: The perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees and is usually committing a crime in conjunction with the violence. Examples include robbery, shoplifting, or trespassing.

  2. Customer/Client: The perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business. Examples include violent patients at hospitals or customers at a bank.

  3. Worker-on-Worker: The perpetrator is an employee or past employee of the business who attacks or threatens another employee(s) or past employee(s) in the workplace.

  4. Personal Relationship: The perpetrator usually does not have a relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with the intended victim.

Potential Liability for Employers

  • Negligence: Employers have a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe working environment. If an employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent or stop violence and an employee is harmed as a result, the employer could be held liable for negligence.

  • OSHA Violations: Employers in the U.S. must comply with OSHA regulations, which include providing a workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Failure to comply can result in fines and penalties.

  • Vicarious Liability: Employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees if the violence can be considered within the scope of employment.

  • Negligent Hiring/Retention: If an employee who commits violence has a known history of violent behavior, the employer could be liable for negligent hiring or retention, especially if they failed to conduct a proper background check or ignored known risks.

  • Negligent Supervision: Employers could also be held liable for failing to adequately supervise employees if such failure leads to violent acts.

  • Intentional Torts: In some jurisdictions, if an employer intentionally creates or ignores a dangerous situation that leads to workplace violence, they can be sued for intentional torts.

Preventive Measures Employers Can Take

To reduce the risk of workplace violence and potential liability, employers can take several steps:

  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence.
  • Implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program.
  • Provide training to employees on identifying and managing potentially violent situations.
  • Encourage employees to report incidents without fear of retribution.
  • Ensure proper security measures are in place.
  • Conduct background checks on new employees.
  • Review and adjust workplace design to increase security where necessary.
  • Offer employee assistance programs to help workers cope with aggression and conflict.

By being proactive, employers can create a safer workplace and reduce the likelihood of workplace violence and the associated liabilities.

How can Avery & Associates help Preventing and Investigating Workplace Violence?

Avery & Associates Investigations can assist in addressing workplace violence in several ways helping to prevent them from occurring, and responding to them when they occur and investigating the occurrence. Here are some specific ways we can help:

  • Risk Assessment: A private investigator can conduct a thorough risk assessment of the workplace to identify potential security vulnerabilities that could lead to violence. They can also assess the potential risk posed by specific individuals when there are concerns about their behavior.

  • Background Checks: Conducting background checks on potential hires is crucial in mitigating the risk of workplace violence. Investigators can uncover histories of violence, restraining orders, or any other red flags that an employer may need to know before bringing someone on board.

  • Surveillance: If there are suspicions or threats of violence in the workplace, a private investigator can perform surveillance to monitor the behaviors of specific individuals who may be a threat. This can help in gathering evidence needed to take preventative action. They can also serve restraining orders on the individual!

  • Incident Investigation: After an incident of workplace violence occurs, a private investigator can help in determining what happened, why it happened, and how it could have been prevented. This investigation may involve interviewing witnesses, analyzing security footage, and collecting other relevant evidence.

  • Training and Education: Investigators can provide training sessions for management and employees on recognizing the warning signs of potential violence, effective de-escalation techniques, and appropriate responses to threatening situations.

  • Policy Development: A private investigator can work with an organization's human resources and legal teams to develop or refine policies related to workplace violence, including prevention strategies and response plans.

  • Evidentiary Support: If legal action is taken in response to an incident of workplace violence, a private investigator can offer evidentiary support. This can include documenting injuries, property damage, and providing a detailed report of the incident and investigation findings.

  • Personal Protection: In cases where an employee is threatened by another individual, such as a domestic partner or disgruntled co-worker, a private investigator can provide personal protection services or advice on security measures.

  • Expert Testimony: Should a case related to workplace violence go to court, a private investigator can serve as an expert witness, providing testimony on the findings of their investigation.

  • Liaison with Law Enforcement: Private investigators can act as a liaison between the business and local law enforcement, ensuring that information is shared effectively and that any necessary legal steps are taken in a timely and coordinated manner.

By taking a proactive and comprehensive approach, private investigators can help businesses prevent workplace violence and mitigate the damage when such incidents occur, ensuring a safer workplace environment for all!

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Workplace Violence May Subject Employers to Substantial Financial and Criminal Liability!

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