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Course 720 - Preventing Workplace Violence

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Viciously Beating and Wounding a Coworker

The Incident

The following incident was reported to the agency's Incident Response Team. A female employee had broken off a romantic relationship with a male coworker, but he wouldn't leave her alone. She finally had a restraining order served to him. After receiving the restraining order, the perpetrator lost control and entered the woman's office. He hit her; she fell from her chair. While she was on the floor, he broke a soda bottle and cut her face with the broken glass. While this was going on, coworkers heard the commotion and called the police. The perpetrator fled the scene before police arrived and the victim was transported to the hospital.

Response

The Incident Response Team immediately implemented the following plan.

Security.

 The Security officer worked with hospital security to ensure that the victim got around-the-clock security while she was in the hospital. He ensured that the hospital staff knew not to give out any information about the victim to callers. He gave the victim advice, reading material, and a video on personal safety. He made sure the perpetrator's card key was inactivated, and he had pictures of the perpetrator made for the building guards. He coordinated efforts with local police.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

  The EAP counselor visited the victim in the hospital and ensured that she was being seen regularly by a social worker on the hospital staff. She worked with the victim's colleagues to help them be supportive of the victim when she came back to work. The EAP counselor visited the worksite to let coworkers know she was available to them .

Employee Relations.

 The employee relations specialist Contacted the agency's Office of General Counsel and Office of Inspector General and alerted them to the situation so that they could begin to monitor any criminal proceedings. He helped the supervisor develop a notice of proposed indefinite suspension using the crime provision set forth in 5 USC 7513( b).

Union.

 The union was fully supportive of the agency's efforts to help the victim. Since both the victim and the perpetrator were bargaining unit employees, the union was aware of its role to represent all employees in the bargaining unit. In this particular case, the perpetrator grieved, but because of the viciousness of the attack, union officials were reluctant to take the case to arbitration. In addition, realizing that this could happen to other employees, the union officials obtained brochures on stalking from their national headquarters and invited an expert speaker on the subject to a chapter meeting.

Supervisor.

 The employee's supervisor obtained all the necessary forms and assisted the employee in filing an Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) claim to pay for hospital and medical costs. The supervisor and the employee's coworkers visited her in the hospital, kept in touch with her during her convalescence, and kept her up-to-date on news from the office.

Agency Attorney.

 An agency attorney maintained Contact with the local prosecutor's office.

Resolution

The police caught and arrested the perpetrator after about 10 days. The agency proposed and effected a removal action against the perpetrator based on a charge of "Wounding a coworker." He did not appeal the action.

The employee remained hospitalized for two days and then went to the home of a friend until the perpetrator was apprehended. She remained at home for another two weeks before returning to work. Her OWCP claim was accepted. She continues to stay in touch with the Employee Assistance Program counselor who had visited her at the hospital and assisted her during her time away from the office. The counselor referred her to a support group for battered women, and she finds it very helpful.

The perpetrator was found guilty and received jail time. After jail time was served, and at the suggestion of an agency attorney, the court forbade the perpetrator to Contact the victim or the agency as one of the conditions of probation. The security officer alerted security guards and discussed security precautions with the victim, ensuring that there would be an effective response if the perpetrator violated this restriction.

Questions for the Agency Planning Group

  1. Who at your agency would monitor the proceedings of the criminal case, e. g., to be aware of the situation if the perpetrator got out of jail on bail or probation?

  2. Does your security office maintain liaison with and keep in Contact with agency or local law enforcement authorities in order to coordinate efforts in these type of cases?

  3. Do you have a procedure in place for cleaning up the scene of the incident after investigators are finished examining it?

  4. Would employees at your agency know who to call in an emergency -- for example, 911, the Federal Protective Service, in-house security, or in-house law enforcement?