In 1994, Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers charged into the stands during a NBA game being played in Detroit, and fought with players and fans. 9 different players were suspended for a total of 146 games, costing those players $10 million in salary. 5 players were charged with assault, and all 5 were found guilty. More recently, Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, of the Washington Wizards, were suspended for the remainder of the NBA season as the result of a dispute over a card game on a team flight which escalated into guns being brought into the locker room by both players. Arenas will lose over $147,000 per game, while Crittenton will lose over $13,000 per game. Too often, we hear about disgruntled ex-employees, distraught spouses or ex-spouses, or others entering places of business, courts, schools, and even basketball arenas, armed with weapons, and "going postal", killing and injuring innocent people. Since the beginning of the year, we have heard about people getting killed in Kennesaw, Georgia and St. Louis. A total of 5 people lost their lives, and 8 were injured. The FBI estimates that approximately 1 million people are exposed to some form of workplace violence every year.
Violence in the workplace has no bounds, and can impact any workplace, at any time. The Houston Chronicle recently published an article entitled "Employers can minimize risk of workplace violence.". The article listed 8 steps that can be taken to prevent or minimize the risk of workplace violence. These steps are: Accept reality. Use effective pre-employment documents and conduct background checks. Establish policies on workplace violence. Conduct substance abuse testing. Develop procedures for investigating threats. Training supervisors and employees. Implement an employee assistance program. Audit and improve security measures.
In addition to the tragic loss of life and devastating injuries, violence in the workplace can result in severe financial consequences to companies when it occurs. Employees being killed or injured. Ongoing counseling. Lost work time and decreased productivity. Bad publicity, often nationally. Workers' compensation lawsuits. Claims for negligent hiring/retention/supervision.
Sirote & Permutt is hosting a seminar on Workplace Violence on Wednesday, February 17th in our Birmingham office, and it will be simulcast to our Huntsville and Mobile offices. If you are interested in attending, please follow this link for more information and RSVP details: seminar