Guidelines for Avoiding Workplace Violence

fist hitting table
May 11, 2017

Workplace violence is increasing. In society there are many stresses. Our current work/economic environment is certainly stressful as employers attempt to remain viable. 

Workplace violence should be treated like a controllable health hazard and a proactive approach is recommended; proper care, procedures, and appropriate steps can minimize and/or prevent workplace violence. The key is accepting the reality that it exists, recognizing the advanced symptoms that usually occur prior to a violent act, and then effectively dealing with the problem in a humane, but firm, fashion. An employer should determine, under all the information and circumstances it has, if its employees are at risk for workplace violence. 

1. Interview the informant and others involved. 
2. Discuss the issues raised in the investigation with the potentially dangerous employee. 
3. Avoid claims of false imprisonment by first determining that probable cause exists to interrogate the potentially violent individual. 
4. If the potentially dangerous employee is targeting a particular employee: 

a. Consider whether the harasser can be moved to a work area where he or she will not have contact with the targeted employee. 
b. Warn the potential victim and advise him or her to seek some means of protection to ensure their safety outside of the workplace. 
5. Place the potentially dangerous employee on suspension, or administrative or sick leave, pending the conclusion of the investigation. 
6. Attempt to obtain voluntary, un-coerced consent before searching an employee’s person or personal effects for a weapon or other evidence believed to be present in the workplace. 
7. Seek a restraining order or an injunction prohibiting harassment or stalking. 
Excerpted from the Michigan Chamber’s Employment Law Handbook: Employer & Employee Protections  authored by attorneys from the Miller Canfield law firm.