Workplace Violence: Employers Given More Latitude by the Courts

It is tough to be an employer in California. Until recently it was even tough for employers to fire employees who were violent or abusive at work if they had a disability that in anyway contributed to the violent behavior. The California Court of Appeal recently recognized that employers have a duty to ensure a safe work place and that no employee has the right to threaten co-workers. In Wills v. Superior Court of Orange County (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 312, the Court held that an employer may properly distinguish between disability-caused misconduct and the disability itself when a disabled employee threatens or inflicts violence against coworkers. Employers should now not feel that their hands are tied in terminating or disciplining a disabled employee who threatens or inflicts violence in the workplace. Ultimately, an employee’s disability is no excuse for threats or violence. Sometimes, even in California, common sense prevails.

For more information contact Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty at [email protected].

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