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Case Study: Workplace Violence

It was a week before Christmas. We received a telephone call from one of our manufacturing clients early one morning. In response, I went out to meet with the Plant Manager to discuss what had occurred the previous night.

The Plant Manager told me that two of his manufacturing employees had beaten up a co-worker who was walking out to his car at the end of the shift. According to witnesses, the beating occurred after the victim had threatened the mother of the two assailants. She was also an employee and was the girlfriend of the victim.

Our investigative team interviewed all of the parties involved and obtained sworn statements about the incident. They were placed on suspension until the investigation was concluded. Our client has a strict policy regarding threats and violence in the workplace which includes the potential of termination.

As was appropriate in this situation, we researched all of the parties involved to see if they had any prior criminal activity. The assailants both had minor criminal records. The victim had a solid, consistent, criminal record involving substance abuse and assaults year after year going back about 15 years. Prior to that, there was no criminal record. I then considered the possibility that the victim might have been living elsewhere and also that the individual might have been in prison. After further research, records showed that the victim had been incarcerated for about 15 years for murder. We told our client and he expressed concern for the safety of his employees on that second shift and the safety of his family.

Keep in mind that the company had a strict policy addressing threats and violence and the fact that we were evaluating the possibility of three terminations - right before Christmas! We re-interviewed the parties involved, making sure that they understood the company’s policy on Workplace Violence and that they knew the consequences of failure to comply with that policy. Because of the criminal history of the parties involved, the company chose not to take action on the employees before Christmas. They chose instead to have us watch the parties involved for a few days. During that time, we were able to observe all of the parties interacting with each other in a civil fashion.

After the holidays, we met with the victim and the two assailants. They were remorseful and admitted that what they had done was wrong. However, they were terminated based on the company policy and were escorted off the premises with no further repercussions.

Steve Cotner is President of Corporate Intelligence Consultants. For more information about this case study, Workplace Violence prevention training, or general Security Management Services, please contact Steve at 1.800.573.2201 / 419.874.2201.