Profiling the Lethal Employee: Case Studies of Violence in the Workplace

Profiling the Lethal Employee: Case Studies of Violence in the Workplace

Profiling the Lethal Employee: Case Studies of Violence in the Workplace

Profiling the Lethal Employee: Case Studies of Violence in the Workplace

Synopsis

In this exploration of new possibilities for the reduction of workplace violence and occupational homicide within a variety of work environments, Kelleher examines the crimes of the lethal employee or ex-employee and develops a profile of characteristics and behaviors often associated with workplace violence or murder. This profile, in turn, can be used to recognize potential violence before it occurs, allowing employers to devise early and effective intervention strategies. The author develops the profile of the potentially lethal employee through behavioral science models and an analysis of case histories of incidents of occupational homicide.

Excerpt

One of the emerging areas of major crime in the United States is occupational homicide--murder in the workplace. Many jobs in this country are inherently dangerous, such as those in law enforcement or security; the possibility of being murdered at work is direct and ever-present for employees in these professions. Indirectly, however, large numbers of other workers in such segments of the economy as the retail trades are at risk because of the pervasive threats of robbery, extortion or other confrontational crimes. Few Americans are surprised to learn of a police officer murdered on the job or a store clerk shot to death in a convenience store robbery. These violent crimes have become commonplace; the perpetrators and their methods are generally known. Their motivations, although heinous, are generally understood.

In the past decade, however, a new criminal has made his mark on the American business community, He is the lethal employee--a murderer who strikes exclusively at his coworkers, and typically, with horrendous results. He may target a supervisor or member of management against whom he holds a grudge but is just as likely to murder fellow employees or clients, seemingly at random. In fact, he often appears to kill indiscriminately. Sometimes, in a final act of desperation, he will take his own life along with those of his victims.

This perpetrator is unlike others who prey openly upon the workplace because he is a member of the workforce. In this sense, he has the perfect cover. He is usually over thirty and sometimes middle-aged. Most likely, he has never committed a major crime in his life prior to his murderous rampage. He may have worked for an organization for several years--perhaps decades--before victimizing it. Frequently, he is still on the job the day he begins his murder spree or may have just been fired and is returning to the job site for a final time. His obvious advantage is that he is known to his coworkers--he is not seriously considered to be a potential murderer, yet he may be deadly serious about revenge.

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