The recent shooting in Florida by a terminated employee has again raised the ugly specter of workplace violence. As a labor/employment attorney, I have I have had a few occasions to provide counsel for clients dealing with potential workplace violence; and, on one occasion had to handle matters stemming from it. Through those occasions, some truths have become evident.
As an employer, always expect the worst. If you have a suspicion that an employee has the propensity for violence, act on that hunch. Take necessary precautions.
If you are terminating someone you think is likely to erupt, be prepared. Precautions should include: get security and/or an off-duty police officer to be there during the termination; immediately collect all keys and access badges; notify needed personnel of the discharge so that they can be on the alert for the individual should he return; and, be fully aware of the need for future vigilance.
I had an occasion to provide counsel to a client and represent the client in a labor arbitration stemming from an employee’s attempt to sabotage equipment with the intent of harming a co-employee who worked on it. I applaud my client for the way the termination situation was handled from start to finish. All of the items listed above were performed. Further, at the arbitration, my client wisely felt it was necessary to have security present. I certainly felt more comfortable sitting across from one who had tried to seriously injury his co-worker knowing that nothing could happen. And, security escorted me to my car after the hearing.