Workplace violence may be defined as any workplace dispute that involves physical harm, or threats of physical harm against a worker. This can happen between workers or between a supervisor and workers. Workplace safety and ethics laws prevent workers from engaging in violent behavior and from behavior that makes an employee afraid to attend work for fear of being harmed.
Workplace violence can involve other legal issues, such as hostile work environment harassment, discrimination, and other issues.
What Are Some Examples of Workplace Violence?
Workplace violence can involve a variety of different actions and conduct. Some common examples of workplace violence include:
- Fistfights between co-workers
- Conduct associated with harassment or bullying (pushing, pulling clothing, wrestling, etc.)
- Horseplay or roughhousing (especially where only one party consents)
- Group violence against one worker
- Certain types of "practical jokes" or "pranks" (such as those that involve tripping or that cause physical harm to the victim)
Lastly, workplace violence can involve situations where both parties have willingly participated in the conduct. An example of this is where workers engage in a fistfight during work hours at the work premises. In such cases, both parties may face consequences for their actions.
What Are Some Consequences of Workplace Violence?
Workplace violence can reflect negatively on the worker’s work record. In addition, workplace violence can lead to penalties such as:
- Criminal consequences (assault and battery charges leading to criminal fines and possible jail time)
- Civil charges for damages caused by the violence (compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses)
- Loss of job or termination from the work position
- Disqualification from benefits or bonuses
As mentioned, workplace violence may often be motivated by factors such as discrimination. In such cases, additional legal charges may be filed in connection with these issues.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Workplace Violence Claim?
Workplace violence is a serious issue and can lead to negative consequences with one’s employer. It can also lead to significant civil and criminal consequences in some cases. You may need to hire an employment law attorney if you have been involved in a workplace violence situation. Your attorney can research the laws in your area to determine what types of rights you have. Also, if you need to file a legal claim in court, or if you need to appear before a judge, your lawyer can represent you through those processes as well.