Actions and Injunctions To Protect Workers from Violence in the Workplace
Violence in the workplace, which includes physical violence, harassment, and intimidation, is on the rise. In fact, according to the most recent United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the matter, “violence by humans or animals,” which includes violence by persons, self-inflicted injury, and attacks by animals, are the second leading cause of workplace fatalities, second only to transportation-related incidents. Domestic violence situations spill into the workplace at times so companies should take steps to protect workers. Current and former employees are acting out and making threats on an increasing basis. Companies should take any threat of harm to workers seriously.
Employers have a duty under federal and state occupational safety and health statutes, as well as under the common law, to provide a safe workplace. Employers also have a common law duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid the risk of injury to third parties.
Companies should update policies and plans, including emergency response plans to address various scenarios. Being prepared and proactive is the key.
If and when an employer is confronted with actual or threatened workplace violence, companies should evaluate the circumstances, seek assistance from police or legal counsel as appropriate, and implement actions to protect workers and the worksite. Some actions that may be helpful to implement include but is not limited to:
We regularly obtain the Injunctions, as identified in bullet point number 9, and they are helpful
1.Teach employees to call 911 when actual or threatened workplace violence arises
2. Train employees on your company’s emergency response plan and any evacuation plans. Teach employees if they see something, say something.
3. Implement a code word to use if a threat exists so coworkers may contact police if the code word is used.
4. Consider installing a silent alarm button that contacts the police department.
5. Implement a BOLO (be on the lookout) with a photo and the information of the aggressor, and direct employees to contact police if the person is seen anywhere.
6. Depending on the level of threat and circumstances, consider having off-duty police officers present at your company.
7. Consider implementing security procedures at businesses, including locked doors accessed by security cards or other ways to reduce third parties from gaining access to a company.
8. Have legal counsel send cease and desist letters to individuals who are threatening or intimidating your company and its employees. We send these letters routinely and have found them to be effective for many situations and they serve to place an individual on notice about no trespassing.
9. Consider going to court to obtain an Injunction Against Workplace Harassment (“Injunction”).
We regularly obtain the Injunctions, as identified in bullet point number 9, and they are helpful to put the individual on notice to cease behaviors and not show up at the worksite and allow police to arrest based on violations of the injunction. Injunctions require evidence and information sufficient to support the granting of an injunction. Include photos and text messages, etc. to support the claim of a threat. Injunctions must be personally served on the individual. At times, we seek, and have successfully obtained, court orders to remove an individual’s firearms. We may include provisions to restrict the individual from being present around certain coworkers or near home addresses of coworkers, and those addresses can be provided confidentially to the court. The Injunction is valid for one year from the date on which the enjoined party is served and can be renewed.
A Justice Court or Superior Court may grant an injunction if it finds evidence of workplace harassment, defined as “a single threat or act of physical harm or damage or a series of acts over any period of time that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed or annoyed,” or if there is cause to believe irreparable harm would result to the employer.
If your workplace has become subject to actual or threatened workplace violence, contact Julie Pace at 602.256.4488 or Danny Marks at 602.256.4476 to address actions that could be implemented to address a concern or to update policies and procedures regarding workplace violence situations.