Workplace Violence / Bullying

Violence, threats, and employee bullying can take place in any work environment, including manufacturing plants, the service sector, and the legal profession.  PII has investigated myriad allegations of violence and bullying, ranging from a supervisor bullying payroll staff, co-workers creating a hostile work environment in corporate offices, and a manager threatening subordinates with physical harm.

Bullying, though not yet illegal under California law, can expose employers to serious civil liability.  Bullying is gaining prominence as a regulatory issue at a time when such complaints are on the rise.

For critical cases, PII is affiliated with threat assessment experts who assist in evaluating potentially volatile situations and, if needed, advise employers on taking appropriate steps to protect their staff and facilities.

Employers have sought PII’s assistance when:

• An IT manager threatened to physically attack a co-worker following disputes over parking places at their office.
• Corporate counsel at a company undergoing labor conflict allegedly threatened to slash the tires of union members with whom the company was negotiating.
• A supervisor repeatedly heaped verbal abuse on employees at a garment manufacturer.
• A new manager brought in to re-organize a hospital department allegedly used bullying tactics to impose new tasks and expectations on the staff.

Case in Point

A non-profit corporation retained PII to investigate its bookkeeper, who was accused of being “difficult and disagreeable.”  After multiple employee interviews, PII found the bookkeeper was involved in a series of escalating confrontations with employees at all levels in the firm, refusing to talk to many of her co-workers, and threatening to burn down the houses of those she did talk to.   The threat of arson became grounds for her dismissal.

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