As the pace and emotional pressures of everyday life impact both employees at home and in the workplace, as well as unknown individuals, a distressing and tragic trend is occurring—employees and unknown individuals are unable to control their emotions at work, or have ulterior criminal motives, and violence erupts toward co-employees, customers or third parties. The unfortunate statistics show that homicide is the number one cause of death for women in the workplace and the third overall cause for men and women. In many cases, these acts of violence occur as employees face the prospect of layoffs and corporate reorganizations in many industries.
No employer wants such incidents to occur. Ironically, as employers struggle to avoid these potential legal liabilities through creation and enforcement of employment policies, they are met with a host of federal and state laws which may protect certain employee conduct. More importantly, since an employer has no objective “litmus test” for predicting which employee may become violent under particular triggering circumstances, there is no foolproof way to effectively eliminate the hazard. Likewise, an employer cannot predict whether unknown individuals may decide to commit random acts of violence because of mental and emotional conditions or for misguided political or religious motivations.