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Workplace Shootings: Who Is Liable?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace homicides rose by 2 percent in 2015, totaling 417 cases. Unfortunately, we are living in a time where our companies must be prepared to handle a sudden and random act of violence in the workplace by having an emergency preparedness plan for all of their employees.

If you are a survivor or victim of a workplace shooting, who is liable for the emotional and physical trauma that such an event leaves behind?

Workplace Violence is on the Rise

Workplace violence in the United States is on the rise, and from 2006 to 2010, an average of 551 workers per year was killed in work-related homicides, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although these workplace shootings happen for a variety of reasons, a common theme among them is revenge against the employer, a romantic partner, or co-workers.

Is Your Employer Liable to Pay for Damages?

OSHA doesn’t have any standards in place for workplace violence, but they do have a General Duty clause that states that each employer, “shall furnish to each of his employee's employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

If it can be determined that the employer potentially knew that an act of violence was likely to occur, there may be grounds that they violated this General Duty clause. For example, if they knew that they hired an employee with a violent past, if they failed to do a proper background check on the violent employee, or if they failed to take up an ex-employee’s badge, keys, or uniform that allowed them to enter the building after they were fired. They could also be liable if the workplace shooter was a stalker or an angry spouse or boyfriend of an employee who forcibly entered the building because of a lack of security.

State laws regarding employee safety may also come into play and provide additional rights to employees if their safety at work has been jeopardized by a workplace shooting.

Workplace shootings can be traumatic, dangerous, and potentially fatal. If you or a loved one has been a victim of workplace violence in Georgia, the employer may be liable for the payment of medical bills, counseling, funeral expenses, and loss of wages. Contact the Fry Law Firm at (404) 948-3571 for a legal consultation today.

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