Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: December 20th, 2011
Workplace violence can be easily defined as violent acts, threats, and other intimidation or harassing behavior directed toward a person at work or on duty. Generally, an event of
this nature will fall into one of four types of situations:
- Criminal. When the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees and is usually committing a crime in conjunction with the violence (e.g., robbery, shoplifting, or trespassing).
- Customer or client. When the perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business (e.g., customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any other group to which the business provides services).
- Coworker. When the perpetrator is an employee of the business, past employee, or contractor who works as a temporary employee of the business and attacks or threatens another employee.
- Domestic violence. When the perpetrator, who has no legitimate relationship to the business but has a personal relationship with the intended victim—such as a family member, boyfriend, or wife—threatens or assaults the victim at the workplace.
Simply defining terms and setting out the scope of the threat belies the complexity of the challenge, however. Consider an issue that Starbucks finds itself facing. While going about its business of selling coffee, the company has found itself dragged into the national debate over gun rights.