Magazine article Security Management

Judicial Decisions. (Legal Reporter)

Magazine article Security Management

Judicial Decisions. (Legal Reporter)

Article excerpt

Workplace violence. In a recent decision, an appellate court has ruled that a company need not follow its disciplinary procedure when discharging a potentially violent employee.

Robert Merheb was employed by the Illinois toll highway authority as an auditor when, in 1996, he filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination based on sex and national origin. Merheb alleged that a female supervisor had slapped him. The suit was settled contingent upon the authority giving Merheb a new job. As part of the settlement, the authority also agreed to a progressive disciplinary policy where oral reprimands would be given on a first offense. A second offense would result in a written reprimand, and a third would warrant suspension without pay. A fourth infraction would result in discharge.

In July 1997, when Merheb started in his new position, the authority's executive director was overheard saying that he was "working on getting rid of' Merheb. In addition, Merheb claimed that his new supervisor, Sharon Conrad, was unkind to him, humiliated him in front of others, and yelled at him.

Six months later, Merheb lost his temper after Conrad criticized him. According to several employees who were present, Merheb's face turned red, his eyes bulged, and he looked "wild." Merheb stood up and screamed in rage that he was "going to do something about Sharon." Several employees testified at the ensuing trial that they were afraid that Merheb was going to hurt someone. …

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