Violence liability

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Updated: 4/13/2007 6:36 pm
Unfortunately, in every workplace, there's always a potential for conflict that can lead to violence. Employers not only should do their best to prevent such conflicts from occurring, they're legally required to do so. According to several federal and state anti-discrimination, sexual harassment, and safety and health laws, employers can be held liable for not protecting employees from violence in the workplace. Generally, if a company is found liable for a workplace injury due to violence, it must provide worker's compensation to the injured employee. Under worker's compensation laws, the injured employee may be entitled to receive lifetime medical care, a small stipend, and even job retraining. Keep in mind that employees, even after receiving worker's compensation, can still file a lawsuit against an employer and receive monetary damages if the employer is found guilty of failing to take adequate safety and security measures after being notified of a potential danger. For example, if an employee who hurts another co-worker had a history of violence which the employer knew about but did nothing to protect others, the company can be charged with negligent hiring and forced to pay the injured party damages. The best way that employers can avoid violence liability is to prevent workplace violence. Prevention methods can include instituting criminal background checks of all new hires, prohibiting the possession of all weapons inside the workplace, and developing and enforcing clear policies against all forms of violence including harassment.
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