What to do when an employee threatens violence

Q. I work in the HR area at my company and just learned that an employee who is experiencing some personal problems is now having performance problems at work. I also learned the employee has made threats about hurting his boss and a certain co-worker. What should I do?

A. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Follow up immediately by interviewing the people involved. Get statements in writing as soon as possible. If you or the people who heard the statements believe in good faith that there is any possibility the threats were serious, you should:

  1. Obtain a temporary restraining order from the local court.
  2. Suspend the employee and tell him to stay away from the office and the individuals until further notice.
  3. Obtain security for the relevant work site, at least on a temporary basis.