Top 3 Office Security Threats

Employers are responsible for providing security for their employees – from both external and internal threats. The exact extent of liability depends on the nature of the “ duty of care,” or the obligation of a person to act towards others with the watchfulness of a reasonable person. This is known as “ reasonable care.” If employers do not meet this standard of care, then they are considered negligent, and liable for damages in a lawsuit for negligence.
There are 3 general guidelines that help identify an employer’s “duty of care” to employees: the harm to employees must be (1) reasonably foreseeable, (2) the relationship between employer employee is close (3) and it must be “fair, just and reasonable” to impose liability. Once the duty is clarified, a “breach of duty” results if the employer knowingly or unknowingly causes harm. If the harm is directly caused – if there is “proximate cause” – due to negligence, then employers are liable for damages.
1. Workplace Violence
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.
Two Common Sources, Liability and Prevention:
1.Disgruntled Employees: the most common perpetrator of workplace violence. These employees either perceive or are subjected to wrongful treatment by an employer. The extent of employer liability is based on what the employer could have done to address the employee. Employers can prevent disgruntled employees by keeping employees content and happy by providing a non-hostile work environment, paying high-wages, and ensuring fair treatment. Funny door signs are an excellent way to alleviate workplace stress and prevent a hostile work environment. Employers can also screen new employees with background checks to verify an applicant’s propensity for violence. Employers should also be aware of the warning signs of a disgruntled employee e.g. absenteeism, threats, depression, complaining, and should be prepared to take immediate security measures (firing, increasing security) if necessary.
2. Domestic Violence: Domestic violence can spill over into the workplace. Under NYC Human Rights Law, it is illegal for employers discriminate against, fire, or refuse to hire an employee because he/she is a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking. These abusers may also harass their victims at work via telephone or in person. Although this may disrupt your workplace, it is illegal to punish or fire a victim because of the acts of the abuser. Employers must make “reasonable accommodations,” that is, unless it would pose an “undue hardship.” For instance let the abused change their phone number or make exceptions when they come late.
An estimated 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Workers with the highest risk are those that exchange money with the public, deliver passengers, goods, or services; work alone in small groups, during late night or early morning hours, in high-crime areas e.g. social workers, probation officers, taxi drivers, letter carriers, and repairmen.
Employers are liable for workplace violence under OSHA’s “General Duty Clause” which requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all workers as mandated by the OSH Act. Employers who fail to take “reasonable care” in preventing or abating a recognized violence hazard in the workplace can be cited.
OSHA recommends that employers secure the workplace from violence via CCTV surveillance, CCTV signs, extra lighting, alarm systems, name badges, electronic keys, and guards. Employers can also protect employees by establishing a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence. One common tactic is to ban guns from the workplace: some employers even ban licensed concealed carry. Employers can post no firearms signs on the premises to inform visitors and employees of their gun policy.
2. Theft
Employers are responsible for protecting the workplace from internal and external theft: theft due to outsiders and theft by employees. Employers are only liable for external theft unless they had knowledge of internal theft and failed to take action.
Regarding external theft, employers are liable for theft damages claimed by employees if they were negligible in securing the workplace. If the employer could have reasonably foreseen the theft, the employer was liable to take security measures or inform employees of the risk. A failure to do so is grounds for theft liability: the degree of negligence will determine the extent of liability. For instance, if a trespasser steals employee belongings from the locker room, employers are not responsible because the locker room accommodation proves “reasonable care” was taken to protect employee property. Furthermore, if it can be proved that employees knew of the risks of theft, then the reasonable expectation of security on the employer is diminished. Employers can protect their workplace from theft by enhancing security, posting CCTV signs, security signs, and no trespassing signs. Employers can also invest in theft insurance to protect against damage claims.
One of the most common forms of external theft is identity theft. Identity theft is when others steal personal information like social security number or credit card information, to commit fraud and other crimes. Identity thieves usually steal employee information from the internet. Employers are held liable under the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) of 2003 if employers negligently or purposely let employees’ personal information get stolen. Infractions can cost employers up to $2,500 per case. Employers can avoid liability by securing their network and date systems with IT protection and encryption programs. Employers can also run background checks on employees handling sensitive information and require non-disclosure agreements. Employers should also make sure to dispose of personal information in paper format via shredder and store personal information and important documents in locked cabinets.
3. Trespassing
Trespassing is the act of knowingly entering another’s property without permission. Employers are responsible for ensuring the workplace is protected from trespassers. Whether you want to keep out employees that should not come onto business grounds when they shouldn’t e.g. terminated-employees who refuse to stay away – or unwanted individuals. Trespassers usually want to steal or vandalize company property: therefore, workplaces containing valuable goods, equipment, and cash should enact especially heightened security measures e.g. banks, department stores, and jewelry stores. In such a case, employers should hire security guards, install alarm systems, lock doors, require name badges, post no trespassing signs, and CCTV signs to deter violators. Employers can only claim insurance damage or theft if they demonstrated “reasonable care” in preventing trespassing. Also, employers could be liable for damages done to employees from trespassers. Employers can minimize liability if they weren’t negligent, couldn’t foresee the danger, and didn’t withhold information from employees that could otherwise have helped them.
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