Rears Its Ugly Head
ADA, ADEA, OSHA: Acronyms and Workplace Violence
ADA - "The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) does not insulate emotional or violent outbursts blamed on an impairment", a court ruled. In Hamilton v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., 5th Cir., No. 97-10352 the court upheld the firing of an employee who claimed an outburst was caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. It ruled the employee's symptoms were only temporary, and did not constitute a qualified disability.
ADEA - After a worker was demoted and eventually fired for confrontational behavior the employee sued the employer under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act when he found out he was replaced by a younger worker. A court upheld the employer's decision based on the company relying on two doctors' evaluations that the employee could pose a threat to others. (Bush v. Dictaphon Corp., 6th Cir., WL 804524)
OSHA - A company heeded the safety complaint of one worker, but his manager fired him six weeks later for allegedly threatening to "shoot the place up," among other remarks. That's wrongful termination and retaliation, the employee complained in court, but the case was dismissed. (Wilkes v. McBee Systems, Inc., 6th Cir., No. 98-3330)
Summary: Some Other Preventative Measures
Here are some suggestions for helping to prevent workplace violence:
Workplace violence is on the rise, and will continue to be from now on. It is in all of our best interest to do our best to minimize this threat and be prepared to respond to it. Not only is it good business practice, lowering your risk for liability and lost productivity etc., but it is the smart thing to do.
A safe workplace is something we expect in our society. We all want to work in a safe environment… so it is our obligation as employers and HR professionals to take an active interest and action in this very important issue.
BCG can help you with your policies, procedures or employee violence issues.