Employee Violence, Safety and Theft

Employers need to be aware of their rights and obligations under the law both with regard to protecting both their employees and the company’s property and assets.

Employers have a legal obligation to keep their employees safe while they are at work. This obligation includes protecting employees from threats posed by both outsiders and fellow employees. This obligation also requires employers to take reasonable efforts to prevent workplace accidents and injuries by preventing, removing, or remedying unsafe conditions, such as slippery floors or exposed wiring. Taking precautions in these areas helps promote not only employee health and safety, but also employee productivity. Employees should not have to worry about their safety and health while at work. Workplace safety and workplace violence policies can set expectations, as well as identify reporting mechanisms for employees with concerns.

Many states recognize causes of action for negligent hiring and supervision, which can be asserted by employees who are hurt at work by co-workers or supervisors. Implementing actions such as employee background checks, applicant reference checks, and drug and alcohol free workplace policies can help prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place and provide legal defenses in the unfortunate event that they do occur and a claim arises.

Employers likewise have the desire to protect their own property, both tangible and intangible, from destruction and theft by employees and outsiders. An instinct employers may frequently have to protect the safety and security of their property is to install one or more types of surveillance systems. However, employers should be aware that installing these types of surveillance systems may trigger employee privacy concerns. Whether employers are monitoring employee use of company computers to ensure confidential information is not being emailed to improper sources, videotaping areas of its property to prevent theft, or tracking company vehicles through GPS technology, such actions might infringe upon employee privacy rights if not implemented appropriately. In certain instances, prior employee consent is required.

Other than implementing surveillance systems, employers can also utilize confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements to protect confidential information, important relationships, and intellectual property being created by employees. However, similarly to surveillance systems, employers must ensure that these agreements comply with all applicable state and local laws in order for the agreements to be effective and binding.


Protect

As employers are looking to protect their employees and their property, our experienced employment lawyers work with our clients to protect their interests. Whether it is assisting with policy drafting, establishing best practices, or coordinating with industry workplace safety experts, we ensure that our clients have the necessary policies and practices in place to best protect their business based on their industry, company culture, and the laws applicable to the places where their employees work. Our services include:

  1. Training for management on the policies a company needs and how to implement them;
  2. Providing phone and email guidance on the implementation and interpretation of policies, both generally and in specific situations;
  3. Addressing day-to-day situations as they arise, such as the discovery of workplace theft or an incidence of workplace violence, and providing appropriate legal guidance;
  4. Connecting you with industry experts, such as outside workplace safety experts, where necessary.

Advocate

When employees are injured in the course of their employment, the majority of those bodily injury claims are going to be covered under an employer’s workers’ compensation policies. However, in certain situations, employees may assert other types of tort claims asserting that their injury was caused, for example, by the employer failing to supervise another employee or failing to prevent intentional harm caused to an employee. We defend employers from such types of claims.

Similarly, when employers’ assets are threatened or harmed, we assist our clients with proactive measures against employees who have taken confidential information, trade secrets, or tangible property by bringing court actions for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions. Should a business find itself on the receiving end of such a litigation from another company, we can assist in that defense. Our services include:

  1. Initiating claims in state and federal courts to protect stolen information and property, and to stop employees from violating confidentiality and other agreements;
  2. Defending against similar claims from other businesses;
  3. Defending against employee claims arising from workplace injuries or workplace violence;
  4. Assisting with internal investigations of current-employee claims.