2021Workplace Violence
Stop Workplace Violence

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), has published an article titled “Workplace Violence and Human Resources: A Brief Introduction” to highlight action items Human Resources (HR) and employers may consider to help prevent workplace violence.

“With horrendous incidents of workplace violence back in the news, it is an opportune time for HR to explore solutions and risks in case it ever hits their workplace,” Rosen suggests, referring to a mass shooting in San Jose, California, in May 2021, where a man killed nine co-workers and was later found to have had problems at work.

“Of course, there is no sure-fire cure to prevent all incidents of workplace violence, but employers can substantially increase their odds of avoiding or mitigating workplace violence by preparing a workplace violence prevention program,” explains Rosen, author of “The Safe Hiring Manual,” a guide to background checks.

“Workplace violence” is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite” and “ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.”

In the article, Rosen identifies certain behaviors that can be “Red Flags” that employers need to look at and be aware of to ensure that a workplace is safe and not toxic, even if these behaviors do not automatically result in an escalation towards greater violence. Example of such concerning behaviors may include the following:

  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs that are apparent to co-workers or numerous comments about personal use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Pre-occupation or excessive talk about weapons and ammunition at work in a way that is intimidating or threatening.
  • Behavioral changes that include poor job performance.
  • Depression or withdrawal.
  • Destruction of property or threats to harm someone.
  • Complaints about unfair treatment.
  • Violation of company policies.
  • Mood swings.
  • Overreaction to criticism or evaluations.
  • Behavior that appears to a worker as exhibiting paranoia.

“Workers should be able to report such observations to management anonymously so that an HR professional or manager would be able to evaluate if any action is needed. However, that means an employer must make certain managers are trained in the area and that the company culture takes such reports seriously,” writes Rosen.

“If a manager or HR professional gets a report or observes worrisome behavior and evaluates it as a serious current or potential threat, an employer may well want to bring in the assistance of other professionals who can help evaluate the situation and assist in determining a course of action,” Rosen explains in the article.

“The bottom line is that all employers need to make sure they have a safe and healthy workplace, where everyone is everyone is respected and valued. That includes a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of behavior that creates disruption or intimidation and early intervention when a potential problem is identified,” Rosen concludes.

Rosen is a noted safe hiring expert who has been quoted in numerous articles about background checks. He served as the chairperson of the steering committee that founded the Professional Background Screeners Association (PBSA), served as its first co-chair, and received the PBSA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm ranked the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – offers employers and HR professionals background screening services to help them prevent problems such as workplace violence. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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