Human Resources Expert Discusses Violent Confrontation in the Workplace

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on December 20, 2017

This corporate security case involves an incident of workplace violence between two employees of a large meatpacking facility. The plaintiff, one of the employees who was involved in the dispute, was allegedly threatened by his co-worker who was eventually involved in the altercation. The employee reported the threat of physical violence to the company’s human resources department immediately after it was allegedly made. According to the employer, a meeting was called between the two men and HR representatives immediately to discuss the issue, and the company allegedly decided to retain both workers to preserve their employee retention rate. Nevertheless, just days before the meeting was due to take place, the two employees were scheduled to work at two stations immediately adjacent to one another. At this point, the employee who made the initial threat attacked the other employee, causing significant injuries. Both employees were fired following the incident.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please discuss your background in human resources.
  • 2. Do you have experience handling similar employee disputes on behalf of an employer?
  • 3. What procedures would you expect to be in place for a threat of violence such as the one outlined in this case?

Expert Witness Response E-008064

I have about a decade of human resources experience. During this time, most of my dealings with employee relations were situations that have escalated to Hotline Complaints and Conflict Resolution reporting. In the last year alone, I have worked on four workplace investigations regarding employees. My reporting techniques are clear, concise and fair. A Workplace/Violence Policy should be in full force at all times to outline procedures to be followed in the event of violence, or with the threat of violence. Steps to address would be reporting directly to supervisor; then human resources would be charged with handling the situation at a higher level. In this instance, human resources should have began the investigation within 24 hours of reporting. As a part of this investigation, human resources should have met with both parties separately. Two employees should have been assigned separate work locations during the investigation until a proper resolution was found.

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