ABB Shooting: Economy May Play Role in Workplace Violence

By Guarino, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, January 7, 2010 | Go to article overview

ABB Shooting: Economy May Play Role in Workplace Violence


Guarino, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor


Timothy Hendron killed four coworkers and himself in the ABB shooting in St. Louis Thursday. He was involved in a lawsuit against the company regarding a dispute over retirement benefits.

The shooting at ABB Group in St. Louis Thursday that ended with four

people dead, including the shooter, raises the prospect that the

recession could be a strong contributor to workplace violence.

The Associated Press reports that the shooter, Timothy Hendron, was

among several plant employees suing the company and its trustee,

Fidelity Management Trust, for an unspecified amount over

"unreasonable and excessive fees" related to their retirement

benefits. The federal trial was already underway in Kansas City, Mo.

and was expected to last three weeks.

Mr. Hendron had worked at ABB, a company that makes electrical

transformers, for 23 years.

Role of the recessionThe downturn in the economy may be creating

more circumstances that lead to violent outbursts, says Larry Chavez,

an expert on workplace violence.

"There's more pressure put on people recently because of the

economy," he says. "More people have faced a dissolving of their

whole career. It's too hard to face for some people. When you have

23 years invested, that's a lot."

Although there are no hard data connecting violence with economic

downturns, periods of economic difficulty have been linked to

increases in violent behavior.

For instance, a study released last March by the Florida Department

of Children and Families revealed that the state saw an almost 40

percent increase in demand for domestic-violence centers, which it

said was related to the poor economy.

Hendron fits the profileHendron fits the profile of many of the

people who have killed at their workplace: He is male (95 percent are

men in these cases), he showed no previous signs of violent behavior,

and he was a veteran employee, which made him more susceptible to

company layoffs or benefit alterations, notes Mr. …

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