On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, Eric J. Conn and Kara M. Maciel delivered a webinar regarding “Workplace Violence: No Longer Just a Police Issue.”
Every year, approximately 10% of workplace fatalities result from intentional violent acts. The prevalence of workplace violence is even more alarming when you take into account non-fatal assaults and threats of violence. This particular workplace hazard is uniquely challenging because the threat is often from outside the workplace, including non-employee third parties. Regardless, workplace violence has also become a hot button enforcement issue for OSHA, citing employers under the OSH Act’s catch-all General Duty Clause for employers who do not do enough to protect their employees from violent acts. Beyond OSHA, workplace violence can also implicate other employment laws. For example, if violent acts or threats occur because of symptoms of an employee’s disability, the handling of discipline and termination gets tricky under the ADA. Likewise, HR issues related background checks and negligent hiring could also contribute to civil liability.
Therefore, it is important for employers to develop and implement an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Program and appropriate hiring practices. This webinar advised employers about their legal obligations to address workplace violence and the implications if they fail to do so. It also provided employers with the knowledge and tools they need to develop a workplace violence prevention policy and training for employees to ensure they know what steps to take if an incident of workplace violence occurs.
Specific topics included:
- OSHA’s enforcement philosophy about workplace violence and enforcement under the General Duty Clause;
- When injuries that result from workplace violence must be reported to OSHA;
- Reference checking, negligent hiring and supervision obligations to avoid liability to employees or third parties injured from workplace violence;
- Employer obligations under the ADA, Title VII and state workers compensation laws; and
- Recommendations for a compliant workplace violence prevention policy and employee training.
Here is a link to a recording of the webinar, which includes the full audio with slides.