A worker at Ashley Furniture was killed here in San Antonio in May, 2011 by a co-worker. Now, the family of Aileen Harbridge has sued her former employer. See San Antonio Express News report. The suit claims that the killer, Jose Martinez used a pistol he borrowed from a store manager. There had been a history of violence with Mr. Martinez. He had, says the plaintiffs, been moved from store to store due to problems with his behavior. Ms. Harbridge was killed at the DeZavala store.
The deceased worker had even quit for a time due to the conflict with Mr. Martinez. She returned only when managers assured her she would be safe. Obviously, management was wrong.
This is a good time to discuss what an employer can do to prevent wrokplace violence. Connecticut Employment Blog suggests a few steps:
- Take each incident of potential violence or anger seriously
- Do not hesitate to contact the police
- Provide training to employees, so they can understand the warning signs of work place violence
- Maintain an "open door" – listen to your employees when they complain about possible incidents or strange behavior
Employers should also consider:
- Health and safety committee meetings with employee participation
- Consider using metal detectors to prevent the entry of weapons
- Place mirrors at key hallway intersections
- Provide information on multicultural diversity and racial sensitivity
- Draft a violent incident response plan
OSHA has some helpful information on its website. But, as Dan Schwartz mentions in a later blog post, an employer can only do so much to prevent a deranged or evil person rom committing evil acts. See August, 2010 blog post.