On Friday, May 6, the Tennessee Bar Association held its first in-person Labor & Employment Law Forum since 2019. Among the presenters were John Bode of Miller & Martin PLLC and Paul Merritt of Fortress Consulting, LLC, who discussed workplace violence.

Thinking and talking about workplace violence is scary. Nobody wants to imagine it. But it happens. According to Workplace Violence Prevention Institute Founder Kathleen Bonczyk, at least two million workers in the United States experience workplace violence. And she suspects that number is low; many incidents of workplace violence go unreported.

Eliminating workplace violence is impossible. That said, there are ways to be proactive. Clients should follow three steps to maximize their workplace violence preparedness:

 

1. Create or update your workplace violence prevention policy. At a minimum, the policy should do the following:

a. Define “workplace violence.” You can give examples, such as physical violence, harassment, bullying, and intimidation, but keep the overall definition broad.

b. Identify to whom the policy applies, g., employees, contractors, and visitors.

c. Identify when the policy applies, g., whether off-duty incidents will ever be covered.

d. Explain what employees must do to prevent and, if necessary, respond to workplace violence or threats of it.

e. Explain what employers must do to prevent and, if necessary, respond to workplace violence or threats of it.

2. Train your employees on the policy. Prevention is the goal, not punishment. Provide additional training for managers and supervisors.

3. Conduct a security assessment. You cannot address vulnerabilities until you are aware of them. For example, can employers secure elevators and doors without calling an outside entity? Do you have a method for alerting all employees to an incident? Where should employees go, whether inside or outside the building, for safety?

Most companies have fire drills. Are they disruptive? Yes. Loud? Extremely. But in the unlikely event of a fire, employers and employees know where to go and what to do. They are trained. Workplace violence deserves the same attention. Consult with a member of the Husch Blackwell Labor and Employment team if you need help crafting your workplace violence policy today.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Laura Higbee Laura Higbee

Laura relies on impressive research skills and an attention to detail to help her clients develop winning litigation strategies.

Laura leaves no stone unturned in her representation of clients involved in commercial litigation. As part of larger litigation teams, she helps clients and…

Laura relies on impressive research skills and an attention to detail to help her clients develop winning litigation strategies.

Laura leaves no stone unturned in her representation of clients involved in commercial litigation. As part of larger litigation teams, she helps clients and colleagues to synthesize complex data sets and to situate facts within applicable laws and regulations.

Laura’s clients also benefit from her experience with administrative law and procedure. She served as an intern with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Office of General Counsel, as well as serving as a clerk with both the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings and the D.C. Commission on Human Rights. While at the EEOC, Laura assessed amicus potential for recently appealed Title VII and Equal Pay Act (EPA) cases and researched multiple legal issues, including the tender back doctrine, gender identity as a form of sex discrimination, and previous salary as a factor other than sex under the EPA.