Denver Bar Association
January 2001
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Workplace Violence . . . Are You Protected?

by Kathleen Schoen


What used to go unmentioned, is now an unacceptable problem in society that needs a solution.
Join the bar association in the fight against workplace violence.

By Kathleen Schoen

"Fifteen dead in school shooting." "Lawyer shoots wife and good Samaritan in downtown parking garage." "CDOT worker kills one, injures another." "Ex-wife killed while at work in Aurora bakery."

Violence has changed our society. Violence has changed our workplaces. The above incidents did not take place in New York or Los Angeles, but in the Denver area. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 20 people are killed on the job every week; another 18,000 are assaulted every week (1 million per year). These statistics do not take into account the harassment, stalking, verbal abuse and threats that are daily occurrences in the workplace. The results of workplace violence include lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover, increased medical costs, increased security costs and legal liability. This doesn't even count the emotional toll suffered by all those exposed to violence in the workplace.

Finding a Solution

Managers, lawyers and CEO's are trying to figure out how to protect their workplaces and prevent the full range of abusive and violent behaviors. They are sorting out what their potential liability may be if such an incident happened.

Workplace violence is of great interest to the community. Last year, 600 people attended the first Violence and Workplace Conference sponsored by the Colorado Bar Association and the Colorado Attorney General's Office. Experts John Nicoletti and Sarah Buel were two of the numerous speakers who gave overviews of the workplace violence problem in society. The most dramatic presentation was a description by Karla Harding of the Colorado Department of Transportation shooting in Greeley. Karla survived a gunshot wound inflicted by her co-worker, but lay helpless next to a friend and colleague who died beside her.

The 2001 Conference

Because of the enthusiastic participation in last year's conference and the expressed desire by those participating to know more, the Colorado Bar Association and the Colorado Attorney General's Office are sponsoring "Violence and the Workplace Conference II: Safe at Work in a Changing World" on Feb. 15. This year's conference will focus on building skills and prevention.

One of the highlights of the conference will be the Minneapolis-based Theatre at Work, with their enlightening production--"Unless There's Blood." Breakouts for attorneys include cyberstalking by Dick Reeve, Denver District Attorney's Office; legal liability update by Steve Chavez and Stacy Worthington, Colorado Attorney General's Office; and references, hiring and other policies by Judith Biggs, Holland and Hart, and Elizabeth Silva of Davis Graham and Stubbs. Other topics include "Conflict Resolution Through a Multi-Cultural Lens" and "Dealing With the Indispensable Employee Who is an Antagonist in the Workplace."

Because of the desire to allow more participation, the number of attendees is limited to 400. Register early to not only assure your registration, but also to receive the discount for early registration.

"All attorneys should be concerned about violence in the workplace. Law offices are not exempt from this unfortunate problem. Violence in the office can take many forms, which include: employee against employee; client against attorney; and domestic violence that spills into the office. Beyond the human cost, employers may be liable for their actions, or their failure to act, to avert impending violence in the workplace." -Dale Harris

Violence and the Workplace Conference II: Safe at Work in a Changing World
Feb. 15, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Ave., Arvada.

$145 (early registration is $125 by Jan. 15).

To register, contact Partnerships for a Better Community, (303) 282-0949, or get information on line at www.findthegood.org



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