Workplace violence is high on every HR professional’s list of worst nightmares regardless of the source – an employee, former employee, angry customer, or random third party. Of course, there are a host of security measures employers can undertake in an effort to prevent or mitigate violent incidents on their premises. While there is no substitute for good security measures, we are occasionally asked about what legal steps an employer can take where it is concerned that a particular person may engage in violence or inappropriate behavior on the premises – for example, a disgruntled former employee, a customer who is obsessed with an employee, or an angry ex-spouse of an employee. Unlike some jurisdictions, South Carolina does not have workplace violence restraining orders that allow an employer to obtain a restraining order on behalf of an employee that needs protection. However, depending on the circumstances, there are some legal options an employer can take to help protect its employees.
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Following the April 3, 2018 YouTube workplace violence tragedy, many news sources reported that there were 500 workplace homicides in 2016, the most recent workplace homicide statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistic. The Bureau of Labor report, found here, noted this was “an increase of 83 cases from 2015” and that the “2016 total was the highest [number of workplace homicides] since 2010.” The report also revealed that 409 (82 percent) were homicides to men and 91 (18 percent) were homicides to women.” Further, “homicides represented 24 percent of fatal occupational injuries to women in 2016 compared with 9 percent of fatal occupational injuries to men.”
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