While it is impossible to know for sure if someone is carrying a hidden gun, or is intent on committing mayhem with it at work, employment experts say there are things employers can do to minimize the danger from disgruntled employees.
For starters, employers should always do a risk assessment when facing the task of disciplining or firing an employee, said Steve Watring, an attorney at Dunlevey, Mahan and Furry in Dayton.
“It’s always good to do it in a team, have two employer representatives present,” Watring said.
Hundreds of workers are killed in workplace shootings every year and some of the worst instances have involved disgruntled or fired employees.
Watring’s advice includes:
- Do not humiliate or embarrass the employee.
- Try to avoid the ‘perp walk,’ escorting the employee out in front of other co-workers.
- Use compassion and handle it privately.
- Bring in professional help, including security or police, if there is the potential for violence.
- Eliminate the employee’s access to keys and passcodes.
Gun rights advocates see the workplace shootings as proof of why people should be allowed to bring their guns to work, or at least to their workplace parking lot, as a new Ohio law allows for people with state concealed carry licenses.
That law was passed by the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly in December over the objections of business groups and gun control advocates. But guns rights advocates say people have a Second Amendment right to keep guns in their car at work.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said John Allen, a Champaign County resident who has a CCW license. “I think anybody should be able to protect their self at all times at all costs, because you never know when somebody’s going to act stupid and you should be able to protect yourself.”
Allen said he supports the parking lot law but doesn’t believe a business owner should be forced to allow guns inside the business.
Gun control advocates say more guns make the workplace less safe and don’t want hotheads angry about something at work to have easy access to guns in a car.
“I don’t think that’s good,” said Judith Finley, 60, of Dayton, an opponent of the new law who said there are too many “unbalanced” people walking around.
“We’ve had how many incidents across the United States of people bringing guns to work and unfortunately shooting up the place?” she said.
About a tenth of all workplace fatalities are caused by someone wielding a firearm. In 2015 4,836 people were fatally injured at work, 486 of them by firearms, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Ohio the total number of people fatally injured at work was 202, 18 of whom were killed by firearms.