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What Should I do if I Think a Coworker Might Become Violent?

Workplace violence is a very real problem-around 2 million workers are the victims of workplace violence every year. And because it's legal in most states to bring a firearm to work as long as you keep it in your car, guns are easily accessible to most employees.

Most people who know a coworker they think could become violent may not want to say anything, either because they fear retribution or because they don't want to get involved, or because they don't want to get someone in trouble when they haven't done anything wrong. After all, workplace aggression can be subtle. But when someone is aggressive and begins to show signs of stress, such as domestic problems, money problems, failing to show up at work, mood swings, or irritability, those are red flags.

Workplace violence prevention is possible, and you can do it without getting another employee in trouble. Here's how.

  • Refer to your employee handbook. Your employee handbook may have a plan for how to deal with a coworker who may become violent. Check there first and follow the steps, protecting your anonymity if you fear retribution.
  • Report your concerns to your supervisor or HR. Your supervisor or HR department should be able to help. Tell them your concerns while sticking to facts that others can back up and not being emotional or personally bashing anyone.
  • Make use of your EAP. If your employer has an employee assistance program, you may be able to report your concerns anonymously. Check your employee handbook and break room signs, or ask HR for information about your EAP.

Make sure your employer has an emergency evacuation plan in place to deal with workplace violence, either internally or from an outside actor. If your employer does not, it's time to get one.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.

Our attorneys have more than 40 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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