Violence in the workplace is a harsh reality, but employers must provide a safe work environment. That may mean terminating employees who threaten other employees or get into fights.
Don’t hesitate to do so, but do make sure you treat everyone alike—and document all incidents.
Recent case: Vanessa Fisher, who is black, worked as a corrections officer. She got into what four co-workers described as a violent altercation with another corrections officer with very little provocation. Whenfired her, she sued for discrimination.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said Fisher offered no evidence that race had anything to do with her firing or that her employer acted anything but reasonably after hearing the same version of events from four others. (Fisher v. Maryland Department of Correctional Services, No. 11-1627, 4th Cir., 2011)
- Tell employees to read each form; don't summarize
- Keep an open mind in investigations; juries will punish 'kangaroo courts'
- Don't let insubordinate employee hide behind dubious 'That's illegal!' claim
- Your dollars at risk: 6 ways to protect yourself from personal liability
- When disciplining employees, equality is vital