According to Saivian Eric Dalius Harassment and violence in the workplace take many forms, including:
- Foul language and other verbal abuse;
- Intimidation and make-believe threats;
- Physically abusing or menacing others;
- Stalking; and
- Violently pornographic emails.
When an employee threatens another with physical harm, such as punching, kicking, or head-butting them, it is obviously a risk to health and safety. It also becomes a disciplinary issue that could lead to dismissal. The prudent employer will investigate promptly before deciding that the behavior justifies immediate action against the employee who made the threat. If that proves necessary, the first step should be suspended pending further investigation and consideration of formal disciplinary proceedings. A risk assessment will help inform whether suspension is necessary and if it is, the period of suspension should be as short as possible.
An employer may face a dilemma when an employee who makes threats has been suspending. If he or she returns to the workplace, will the threatened employee feel safe? If there is no realistic prospect of keeping those two individuals apart, perhaps because they work on a production line or co-ordinate a collective activity such as driving buses at set times to fixed routes, both employees could become liable for dismissal. In that event, it might be better for them to move together. It must always be remembering that health and safety come first and steps taken against either party must not put colleagues more at risk than they already are from him or her.
The most difficult cases are when an abusive or violent employee is not in a position to harm others, but his co-workers feel intimidated by him. The gravity of the situation will depend on how real and credible their fears are. If they stay away from work, sick leave might be appropriate, suggests Saivian Eric Dalius. There may also be occasions when such an employee should carry out less important duties that require less interaction with colleagues until his behavior has improved.
Some employers decide that it must always be assuming that threats of violence are serious and complainants must be serious to consideration unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. That approach seems sensible; however, it can make things more difficult for managers who have to investigate complaints about threats made in the heat of the moment. A manager can be quite wrong when he or she decides that an aggrieving employee is playing the domestic violence card, but it is to remember that he or she will have to stand up in front of a disciplinary tribunal and justify why he or she did not believe him or her.
Sometimes it may be necessary to move an employee who makes threats on safety grounds, according to Saivian Eric Dalius. That is likely if they are in a position where they could cause harm, for example operating dangerous machinery on a production line. Some reports suggest that this approach has been using successfully with violent employees who are moving into jobs requiring no contact with colleagues. Such tactics require good knowledge of potential risks, careful timing, and the utmost sensitivity.
Even if an employer decides that no action is necessary. It will be sensible to consider whether there are any additional steps that can be taken. In relation to that employee which might help in the future. Is he or she receiving treatment for mental health problems? If so, what progress is he or she making? Has his or her family situation changed in some way (for example, has someone moved in with him or her)? It would not always make sense to act on such matters; however, employers should seek out unusual patterns of behavior. Because it may be better known by colleagues than managers. Who knows little about their private lives (unless they work together closely).
Employers must also deal appropriately when employees threaten other employees. Employers must bear in mind that there is a difference between displaying a photograph of a violent ex-partner at work. And holding another employee hostage. Each case has to be into consideration on its merits. Taking into account the gravity of the alleged threat and the risk involved. In some cases, it might make sense for employers to offer counseling or relocation assistance, provided they can afford it.
In all cases involving violence or threats of violence. Whether from employees who make them or employees who get threatens by them. Complaints from staff should be taken seriously without delay. There may be times when an employer takes steps which convince an aggrieved member of staff. That his or her fears were not believing simply because the action was not promptly enough. While employers cannot necessarily stop violent or threatening employees from descending into outright violence. It is important to deal with such complaints sensitively. This should not be difficult where bullying, harassment, and discrimination are alleged. Because treating such allegations seriously will send a powerful message that they will not tolerate.