button Vol. 6
No. 2
Summer 2001


OSHA Revises Workplace Injury
and Illness
Reporting Rule.

line DOL Narrows Exemption for
Labor Relations Consultants.

line Interim Rules
Issued for Bush Executive Orders of Feb. 17th, 2001.

line FMLA: "Serious
Health Condition" Being Redefined.

line ADA: Medical Examinations / Inquiries Addressed by 3rd Circuit Court.
line Briefs
line Violence Updates (Briefs)

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

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button Violence Short Updates (Briefs)

1. Employers Fight To Remain Gun Free

The workplace-shooting sprees of this year have once again reminded employers that an unstable worker and a weapon can be deadly. The issue of whether a worksite is safer with or without guns is one that is still being debated all across the country.

While many employers implement weapons-free workplace policies for safety reasons, gun rights proponents contend that disarming workers actually poses a greater threat to their safety. Some employees argue that their employers can never adequately protect them... whereas they themselves can have some immediate recourse in a life-threatening situation if they are allowed to carry a weapon.

In a case that gives us an example of this issue, three employees in Utah have filed a lawsuit against their employer, claiming the company violated their right under state law to carry a concealed weapon by terminating them for possessing guns at the worksite. Some 32 states, including Utah, allow non-felons to carry concealed weapons.

We can expect to see more lawsuits as a result of a wider variety of situations arising in the tinderbox of a more violence-prone society mixed with the uncontrollable rage and frustration of people all around us. Road Rage, Air Rage, Desk Rage, and other rising levels of stress and violence in our society spell increasing trouble in the workplace, with a growing level of legal remedies being applied to stem this tide.

2. Agency in MA. Urges Employers to Take Precautions Against Violence After Latest Slayings

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety issued an advisory on creating safer workplaces as a result of the worst incident of workplace violence in the state's history. They put up a Website at: http://www.state.ma.us/eops/workplace.htm

The incident, which triggered this latest response by the State, was the shootings at Edgewater Technology Incorporated in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Another so-called "disgruntled" employee allegedly shot and killed seven co-workers in this tragic case.

According to the agency, employers should take three steps to increase security in the workplace: conduct regular threat assessments evaluating both internal and external risks, develop plans for building security, and prepare response plans "to minimize casualties and damages" from workplace violence.

"There are always warning signs," says Mark Braverman, principal at CMG Associates, a consultancy in Newton, Massachusetts, and author of "Preventing Workplace Violence."

"I like it," says Braverman, "when companies call me and say, 'We have someone here who we are concerned about,' not 'We just fired someone, and we're afraid he's going to come back and kill us.'"

"The big problem is that workplaces can be extremely stressful, and people feel resentful and isolated," Braverman says.

"Workplace violence is a leadership issue. The trick is to foster communication and to have a good safety net for those folks who need help."

Companies should establish reporting procedures and policies for handling dangerous behavior and signs of stress among their own employees, the MA State agency added. They also should evaluate outside threats from extremists and those with grudges against them.

3. Worker With Depresssion Threatened Violence - Employer Was Justified In Firing

A civil rights investigator with depression who made comments about shooting someone at work was properly terminated by a state agency because she was a threat to others in the workplace, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled.

The agency, the court wrote, "could not afford to ignore [the plaintiff's] admitted statement regarding shooting someone at work, particularly in light of other factors which indicated that [she] was not mentally stable."

The Eighth Circuit covers Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

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