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Violence Strikes the Workplace

7/18/2017

Workplace violence isn't just limited to high-risk jobs such as police officers, taxi drivers and late night convenience store clerks. It happens everywhere, as illustrated by recent high-profile cases. Workplace shootings have occurred at all types of businesses including factories, hospitals, engineering firms, advertising agencies and colleges.

Add to that your company's legal liability for the acts. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a workplace free from hazards that cause harm or death. Some states and localities have similar laws.The annual cost to American companies is estimated at billions of dollars a year when taking into account lost productivity, increased insurance premiums for workers' compensation, disability insurance, employee absence and rising turnover.

A company can be liable under the common law tort theories of "Negligent Hire" and "Negligent Retention." These principles state that an employer has a duty to exercise reasonable care when hiring and retaining employees. If you know -- or have reason to know -- that an employee is dangerous, you're obliged to keep that individual away from other employees and the public.

Juries have assessed enormous compensatory damages for pain and suffering, and there's no cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded.

It's in your company's best interests to be proactive. Consult with your attorney about your policies, procedures, handbook and training. Here are some steps to consider to help reduce danger at your company:

 

 

Check But Don't Ask

You can run a criminal record check to see if an applicant was ever convicted of a crime. But it's illegal to ask about a criminal arrest, which only means a person was suspected of a crime.

 

 

 

 

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