The most tragic outcome of workplace harassment is active shooter events. In the past few decades, it seems like active shooter events have been increasing in frequency in both the United States and Canada.
These events shock the nation and call into question on how they could’ve been prevented or stopped. Although there are many factors, many active shooter events involve workplace harassment.
There are numerous examples of an enraged ex-employee who decides their colleagues need to be punished, but the example we will focus on right now is about an angered citizen. This citizen harassed the staff of a local newspaper for years while he pursued a defamation lawsuit against the paper for publishing an article about his criminal harassment conviction.
The citizen lost the lawsuit—the article wasn’t defamation because it was based on publicly available facts—but continued to harass the newspaper staff via in social media, letters, and personal encounters.
The publisher contacted the police department and attempted to get a restraining order, but the citizen was still able to enter the ground of the newspaper company, kill five people with a shotgun, and injure two more. He was caught but it was too late to undo the catastrophic damage.
The families of the murdered staff were no doubt shattered by this event. It can also be assumed that the years of harassment and death threats would’ve taken a toll on the victims and other staff of the newspaper.
Harassment isn’t just a workplace nuisance or a liability risk. It can literally be a matter of life and death on those all too frequent occasions when harassment escalates to violence.
Workplace harassment should be addressed and reduced regardless of it being between those in the workplace or a third party, as in this case.
If there is a risk or current workplace harassment for you, you must install protections and take the preventive steps to survive an escalation.
A tragedy is undesirable in any setting.