Recent workplace violence leads to stricter policies

Employers creating new policies to identify potential sources of violence

Published On: Oct 31 2012 05:54:57 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 31 2012 10:15:23 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Major corporations and small business are taking steps to protect their employees and themselves, following a number of recent workplace shootings.

Just last month at a Minneapolis sign shop, one man killed six people before turning the gun on himself.

In Jacksonville in early 2012, it was a horror that became a reality, when an employee killed the headmistress at a school.

Employment attorneys say there are changes being made in the industry to protect employees. Employers are being proactive and creating new policies to identify potential sources of violence before they happen.

Workplace violence struck close to home in Jacksonville in early 2012 when a recently fired employee returned to Episcopal High School to kill the headmistress, Dale Regan.

To some, it may seems as if workplace shootings are happening more than ever before, but statistics reveal the violence is actually down in the United States.

What's up however, is the awareness -- media coverage plus social media. And it's the reason why employers are re-thinking their policies and procedures

"This is one of the valuable things of our digital age. The consciousness is better," Employment attorney Bob Reigel said. "I think employers will want to be more and more proactive, have a security plan in place."

Riegel said companies big and small are developing anti-workplace violence policies.

Some companies are requiring their employees to notify them immediately if they or someone in their family have filed a restraining order.

"If the employee fails to tell you, that would be a basis for discipline, up to what we would say, discharge," Riegel said.
 
Employers have also created videos, like one in Houston called "Run, Hide, Fight", instructing workers what to do in an active shooter situation.

Some employees are being required to report any perceived threat of violence that they may overhear, or risk being fired from their jobs.

"Anytime you hear about a threat of violence, marital situation, that staff has a duty to report it to management," Riegel said.  

Currently the law is not clear as to what employers are required to do.