Going to work was once something people did without great concern for their safety. We live in an increasingly violent world in which we too often hear about mass shootings by deranged or disturbed people.

There has been an increase in mental illness.


The National Institute of Health reports that:
  • An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older (about one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
  • Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion: about 6 percent (or 1 in 17) who suffer from a serious mental illness.
Research indicates there are certain variables which increase the risk of violence:
  • 2-12% for those who have some type of psychiatric condition
  • 19% for those using marijuana
  • 25% for those using alcohol
  • 35% for those using other drugs

The Effects of Violent Behavior

The effects of violent behavior are far-reaching. Often times the toll is mitigated by other bystanders and observers who become involved, either by their mission and training or by their choice.


This type of intervention saves many lives.

  • The average duration of a typical violent encounter is less than 2 minutes.
  • The average response time of police is 6 minutes and 15 seconds. You do the math.

Taken from a survey of 63 cities in the United States, conducted by the International City/County Municipal Association.

Organizations, corporations and companies are not immune to being sued.

The First Amendment will provide limited protection for employers to believe what they want, but do not give them protection to do – or not do – anything they want. Employers can be sued for any reason. Lawsuits generally seek large sums of money and courts are much more willing to entertain these legal actions. Lawsuits cause major disruptions, cost a considerable amount to defend, and invite publicity.

Negligence, which is usually the basis for these lawsuits, is defined as a party’s failure to exercise the prudence and care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances to prevent injury to another party. Given the mass shootings that have taken place over the last decade, do employers have a legal obligation to protect the employees from deranged individuals?

Generally, the plaintiff in these cases must prove the following in order to be awarded restitution, compensation or reparations for their losses:

  • That the defendant had a duty of care;
  • That the defendant failed to uphold this duty;
  • That this negligence led to the plaintiff’s injury or death;
  • The actual damages that were caused by the injury.

Gross negligence is usually understood to involve an act or omission in reckless disregard of the consequences affecting the life or property of another.

Lacking some type of Workplace Violence Emergency Plan or as required by some professions – mandated training – every employer worldwide is vulnerable to these types of attacks and the resulting lawsuits.