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Ensuring workplace safety with protective orders

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in HR Management,Human Resources

The scene is all too common: A disgruntled employee is fired for poor performance. On his way out, he threatens his manager and co-workers. Fortunately, situations like this usually end with the terminated employee cooling off, filing for unemployment and getting on with his life.

But what happens when the employee doesn’t let it go?

One deterrent in the war against workplace violence is a restraining order—a court order requiring an individual to stay away from your premises.

Issues to consider

Before pursuing a petition for a court to issue a restraining order, weigh the following issues:

What is the nature of the threat? Has an employee actually suffered unlawful violence? If so, pursuing a restraining order should be a priority. If there has been no actual violence, assess the risk that violence will occur, and the nature of any threats made. In almost all situations, you should adopt a “better safe than sorry” approach.

What is the source of the threat? While all companies have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees, there is an added sense of responsibility when the source of a threat of violence comes from (or can be traced to) the company itself. In such situations, immediate steps must be taken to protect workers from violence perpetrated by former employees.

Does the target want protection? The likelihood of receiving a restraining order depends heavily on the willingness of the potential victim to receive protection.

If the threat of workplace violence is credible, but the target employee refuses to cooperate in the process of securing a restraining order, seriously consider suspending her or him. That sounds harsh, but you must consider the well-being of your other employees who aren’t a part of the dispute.

How the process works

Consult your attorney, local law enforcement authorities or both to begin the process of securing a restraining order.

You will probably be required to provide a description of the facts supporting your petition, along with affidavits signed by witnesses to the events described in the petition.

Your local court will generally issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting any contact with the target employee, pending a subsequent hearing for the purpose of securing a permanent restraining order. Both the employer and the person to be restrained may present evidence.

If the court finds the threat of violence to be credible (or finds that violence has already occurred) it can order a permanent restriction on access to both the company and the target employee for specific period, often three years.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marcellinus August 24, 2016 at 4:47 am

what happens if the disgruntled employee is suicidal and does not mind dying or going to jail provided he or she completes the threat.

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