Employment | Violence In The Workplace
VA Employment Law

The Personal Injury & Employment Law Center

Workplace Violence

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. According to OSHA, nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year and many cases go unreported.

What is the Cost of Workplace Violence?

According to Insurance Journal Magazine, victims of workplace violence miss 1.8 million days of work every year. Also, the annual cost of workplace violence for employers is estimated to be nearly $121 billion, according to statistics from the Department of Justice and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In a 2016 case out of California, Yowan Yang v. ActioNet, Inc., an employee was viciously attacked by his co-worker and successfully sued the company. He was awarded a 2.4 million dollar verdict plus another five million in punitive damages.

This author achieved a three million dollar settlement against an apartment complex and temporary employee hiring agency where a maintenance worker with an extensive criminal record was hired and raped, robbed and attempted to murder one of the female tenants. In another case, this author achieved a confidential settlement where an employee was attacked by another employee who had a history of violence and hatred for gays. Each attack could have been avoided with safer hiring practices. The reality is that the cost to employers – and to the victims – can be enormous.

Employer Liability for Workplace Violence

 

Employer liability for workplace violence can be derived from a number of different theories under Virginia law. These theories include negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, respondeat superior (the employee committing violence while being in the scope of employment), failing to provide adequate security or take reasonable safety measures, breach of contract, and failing to have adequate anti-harassment and other policies in place.

How Can an Employer Be Liable for Violence in the Workplace?

A classic example of employer liability is negligent hiring – something that can be prevented with proper hiring practices. The tort of negligent hiring was first recognized by the Supreme Court of Virginia in J. v. Victory Tabernacle Baptist Church, 234 Va. 206, 372 S.E.2d 391 (1988).  In Victory Tabernacle, a mother brought an action against a church and its pastor, alleging her ten-year old daughter had been raped and sexually assaulted by a church employee, and that the church knew or should have known when it hired the employee that he had recently been convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a young girl, and that he was instructed not to be involved with children as a condition of his probation.  234 Va. 206, 372 S.E.2d 391 (1988).

Preventing Workplace Violence

What are Proper Steps in Hiring to Prevent Workplace Violence?

 

The first step toward preventing the hiring of dangerous or unfit employees is to require all employees to fill out an employment application.  The application also provides a starting point for conducting an independent investigation into the employee’s complete background. The application should include:

  • A list of prior employers, including the type of employment, length of time with that organization, reasons for leaving, with address and telephone numbers of prior employers.
  • Names of references, starting with relationship to the applicant and the length of time known.
  • Statements as to whether the applicant has been convicted of any criminal offense.
  • Gaps in employment should be questioned (they may show a period of incarceration)

Other steps to be employed include conducting criminal record checks, gathering employment references, for some jobs obtaining credit reports, obtaining driving records where relevant to the job and engaging in various tests as applicable.

What Policies Should Be in Place to Address Workplace Violence?

It is critical for employers to implement a basic disciplinary system that includes the following:

  • Identify what is expected of employees and what behavior will not be tolerated.
  • Use verbal counseling and written warnings first unless the behavior is especially egregious. Be sure to document.
  • Where serious allegations or incidents have arisen: Investigate, document, confront, counsel, discipline, call your attorney, discharge if necessary.
  • Mandate the reporting of harassment or other unacceptable behavior. Have an annual statement signed by all employees as to whether he or she is aware of any harassment or bullying in the workplace.
  • Mandate the ongoing reporting of any criminal or driving convictions, as may be applicable to the job or to preventing workplace violence.

Other polices include ones that address: threats against employees, building security, no weapons on the premises. addressing visitors in the workplace, ensuring a drug and alcohol free workplace, and an enacting a clear anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation policy.

What Else Should Employers Do to Protect Employees and Customers?

Be sure to follow your policies once put into place. Train all management employees on the enforcement of the policies. Consider training for all employees in the event of a workplace violence situation –  active shooter training may start to become the standard of care.

Have an alarm system for the building – ensure employees understand the difference between a fire alarm and a “workplace violence” situation alarm. Consider putting a surveillance system in place in certain areas – especially the lobby. Have a locked door entrance system in place if possible (for non-retail employers).

What are Safe Practices for Terminating a Problem Employee?

Pack up all of the employee’s personal items prior to giving him or her notice of termination. Provide reasons for the termination – if the employee understands the reasons then this is normally better than being given no reason. Consider having police or at least a hired security guard present. Be sure to collect any keys or card keys or any security devices from the terminated employee. Advise the terminated employee that he or she is not to return to Company premises. Let other employees that the employee no longer is with the Company and make sure that employees know that terminated employees are not permitted back on Company property via a solid building security policy.

When Should Law Enforcement Be Involved?

It is best to have a very good relationship with your local police department (even if you have a security guard on duty).  Get to know the local police – some establishments offer free coffee or the like. Contact the police at the very first sign of an employee becoming agitated. Have a system in place for indicating to a manager or Human Resources representative to make the call. Always err on the side of calling the police if the situation is getting heated. Tell the agitated employee that if he or she does not settle down that the police will be contacted. Ask the employee to please take some time out – take deep breathes, maybe even ask the employee to just take some time away from the office and leave the premises.

When police have not been involved but there have been issues with an employee, including concerns about having terminated an employee, make sure the police are aware of the situation. This author also has written many letters to terminated employees on behalf of employers advising the employee not to return to the premises – and advising that the police will be contacted – unless he or she has obtained prior permission to return.

Learn More About Preventing Workplace Violence

By implementing proactive policies, and engaging employees in the process, employers can help stymie the rising costs and incidents of violence in the workplace. Contact us to learn more about what employers can do to prevent workplace violence.

Schedule A Consultation

I worked with Richard Locke over the past year and a half. During that time, he provided me with counsel that was intelligent, balanced and trustworthy. He was respectful of the difficulty of the situation, and provided an educated and thoughtful approach to the process. Rather than focus on the drama and minutiae of the case, Richard was driven to provide favorable legal results in the most positive way possible. In many ways, his demeanor helped to keep me focused and calm throughout the process. He combines a superior knowledge of the law with a wealth of experience inside and outside of the courtroom. This knowledge and experience was incredibly valuable as my case progressed to help steer its direction and my decisions. His office staff is very responsive, and a pleasure to work with as well.read more
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
18:39 18 May 18
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!read more
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
17:23 09 Feb 16
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!read more
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
16:35 15 Feb 16
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
01:35 31 May 18
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
19:20 23 Aug 17
My husband and I just recently finalized the adoption of our son thanks to Colleen! Our situation happened FAST, and Colleen never missed a beat. Colleen, Katie and Charli were all quick to answer any questions we had and made us feel confident in their ability to provide the services needed. We were blown away at the knowledge and organization Colleen had throughout this process as well! We intend to continue to grow our family through adoption again, and will be using Locke & Quinn!
Ashley Halsey
Ashley Halsey
2019-02-10T03:58:33+0000
My wife and I worked with Colleen Quinn and her paralegal Charli (CharSalle) on my daughter's international re-adoption. We are in Fairfax, VA and they were happy to work with us even though we weren’t local to them. Everything was done by email and mail. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were very knowledgeable about the process. We worked almost entirely with Charli after the initial emails and phone calls and she was great to work with. They filed all of our paperwork with our court, everything went smoothly, and we received our Final Order. Charli has always kept us in the loop about the process and sent us updates. We mailed original documents back and forth without any issue. Their legal fee was very competitive and better than most attorneys in our own area. We are very pleased with their work and assistance in getting our adoption finalized. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Thank you!
Ahmed Rashid
Ahmed Rashid
2018-12-20T14:52:57+0000
Great experience!! Everything I needed they took care of with a timely fashion! Highly recommend!
Morgan Williams Seay
Morgan Williams Seay
2018-08-21T00:14:11+0000
Bob Stiepock
Bob Stiepock
2017-10-23T19:39:04+0000
Personal Injury is a challenging event on many levels in ones life. Have you experienced a moment where you were injured and need to seek legal advice? You need to make a call to Colleen Quinn today. I began to research different law firms that handled Personal Injury. I interviewed several attorneys and spoke with large practices to small firms. I was impressed by Colleens resume and her work with women and the law. I will never regret hiring Colleen and her TEAM. The word TEAM is exactly what I received through out my case. My case was attacked with professionalism and the team was always in communication with me. When I would call to ask questions or to get a better explanation I was always made to feel as if I was the only client. As my case arrived closer to the trail date, my TEAM went into full 110%+ effort and preparation. Colleen was ALWAYS seeking to settle my case with the best outcome that she could. YOU WILL NOT FIND A MORE UPFRONT, HONEST, HARDWORKING-GET IT DONE ATTITUDE THAN THE TEAM OF COLLEEN M. QUINN!! MAKE THAT CALL TODAY-YOU WONT REGET IT!!
Lisa Moore Walker
Lisa Moore Walker
2017-09-17T03:54:10+0000
Cathy Tyree Herb
Cathy Tyree Herb
2013-07-30T17:33:44+0000
RICHMOND: 804-285-6253
CONTACT US

Violence In The Workplace


Workplace Violence

Workplace Violence

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. According to OSHA, nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year and many cases go unreported.

What is the Cost of Workplace Violence?

According to Insurance Journal Magazine, victims of workplace violence miss 1.8 million days of work every year. Also, the annual cost of workplace violence for employers is estimated to be nearly $121 billion, according to statistics from the Department of Justice and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In a 2016 case out of California, Yowan Yang v. ActioNet, Inc., an employee was viciously attacked by his co-worker and successfully sued the company. He was awarded a 2.4 million dollar verdict plus another five million in punitive damages.

This author achieved a three million dollar settlement against an apartment complex and temporary employee hiring agency where a maintenance worker with an extensive criminal record was hired and raped, robbed and attempted to murder one of the female tenants. In another case, this author achieved a confidential settlement where an employee was attacked by another employee who had a history of violence and hatred for gays. Each attack could have been avoided with safer hiring practices. The reality is that the cost to employers – and to the victims – can be enormous.

Employer Liability for Workplace Violence

 

Employer liability for workplace violence can be derived from a number of different theories under Virginia law. These theories include negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, respondeat superior (the employee committing violence while being in the scope of employment), failing to provide adequate security or take reasonable safety measures, breach of contract, and failing to have adequate anti-harassment and other policies in place.

How Can an Employer Be Liable for Violence in the Workplace?

A classic example of employer liability is negligent hiring – something that can be prevented with proper hiring practices. The tort of negligent hiring was first recognized by the Supreme Court of Virginia in J. v. Victory Tabernacle Baptist Church, 234 Va. 206, 372 S.E.2d 391 (1988).  In Victory Tabernacle, a mother brought an action against a church and its pastor, alleging her ten-year old daughter had been raped and sexually assaulted by a church employee, and that the church knew or should have known when it hired the employee that he had recently been convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a young girl, and that he was instructed not to be involved with children as a condition of his probation.  234 Va. 206, 372 S.E.2d 391 (1988).

Preventing Workplace Violence

What are Proper Steps in Hiring to Prevent Workplace Violence?

 

The first step toward preventing the hiring of dangerous or unfit employees is to require all employees to fill out an employment application.  The application also provides a starting point for conducting an independent investigation into the employee’s complete background. The application should include:

  • A list of prior employers, including the type of employment, length of time with that organization, reasons for leaving, with address and telephone numbers of prior employers.
  • Names of references, starting with relationship to the applicant and the length of time known.
  • Statements as to whether the applicant has been convicted of any criminal offense.
  • Gaps in employment should be questioned (they may show a period of incarceration)

Other steps to be employed include conducting criminal record checks, gathering employment references, for some jobs obtaining credit reports, obtaining driving records where relevant to the job and engaging in various tests as applicable.

What Policies Should Be in Place to Address Workplace Violence?

It is critical for employers to implement a basic disciplinary system that includes the following:

  • Identify what is expected of employees and what behavior will not be tolerated.
  • Use verbal counseling and written warnings first unless the behavior is especially egregious. Be sure to document.
  • Where serious allegations or incidents have arisen: Investigate, document, confront, counsel, discipline, call your attorney, discharge if necessary.
  • Mandate the reporting of harassment or other unacceptable behavior. Have an annual statement signed by all employees as to whether he or she is aware of any harassment or bullying in the workplace.
  • Mandate the ongoing reporting of any criminal or driving convictions, as may be applicable to the job or to preventing workplace violence.

Other polices include ones that address: threats against employees, building security, no weapons on the premises. addressing visitors in the workplace, ensuring a drug and alcohol free workplace, and an enacting a clear anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation policy.

What Else Should Employers Do to Protect Employees and Customers?

Be sure to follow your policies once put into place. Train all management employees on the enforcement of the policies. Consider training for all employees in the event of a workplace violence situation –  active shooter training may start to become the standard of care.

Have an alarm system for the building – ensure employees understand the difference between a fire alarm and a “workplace violence” situation alarm. Consider putting a surveillance system in place in certain areas – especially the lobby. Have a locked door entrance system in place if possible (for non-retail employers).

What are Safe Practices for Terminating a Problem Employee?

Pack up all of the employee’s personal items prior to giving him or her notice of termination. Provide reasons for the termination – if the employee understands the reasons then this is normally better than being given no reason. Consider having police or at least a hired security guard present. Be sure to collect any keys or card keys or any security devices from the terminated employee. Advise the terminated employee that he or she is not to return to Company premises. Let other employees that the employee no longer is with the Company and make sure that employees know that terminated employees are not permitted back on Company property via a solid building security policy.

When Should Law Enforcement Be Involved?

It is best to have a very good relationship with your local police department (even if you have a security guard on duty).  Get to know the local police – some establishments offer free coffee or the like. Contact the police at the very first sign of an employee becoming agitated. Have a system in place for indicating to a manager or Human Resources representative to make the call. Always err on the side of calling the police if the situation is getting heated. Tell the agitated employee that if he or she does not settle down that the police will be contacted. Ask the employee to please take some time out – take deep breathes, maybe even ask the employee to just take some time away from the office and leave the premises.

When police have not been involved but there have been issues with an employee, including concerns about having terminated an employee, make sure the police are aware of the situation. This author also has written many letters to terminated employees on behalf of employers advising the employee not to return to the premises – and advising that the police will be contacted – unless he or she has obtained prior permission to return.

Learn More About Preventing Workplace Violence

By implementing proactive policies, and engaging employees in the process, employers can help stymie the rising costs and incidents of violence in the workplace. Contact us to learn more about what employers can do to prevent workplace violence.

Schedule A Consultation

I worked with Richard Locke over the past year and a half. During that time, he provided me with counsel that was intelligent, balanced and trustworthy. He was respectful of the difficulty of the situation, and provided an educated and thoughtful approach to the process. Rather than focus on the drama and minutiae of the case, Richard was driven to provide favorable legal results in the most positive way possible. In many ways, his demeanor helped to keep me focused and calm throughout the process. He combines a superior knowledge of the law with a wealth of experience inside and outside of the courtroom. This knowledge and experience was incredibly valuable as my case progressed to help steer its direction and my decisions. His office staff is very responsive, and a pleasure to work with as well.read more
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
18:39 18 May 18
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!read more
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
17:23 09 Feb 16
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!read more
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
16:35 15 Feb 16
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
01:35 31 May 18
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
19:20 23 Aug 17
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