Recession fuels worries of workplace violence

Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:27pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A worker recently laid off by a U.S. financial services company grew so upset that the firm had him followed to be sure he didn't strike out violently at his former co-workers or bosses.

"Tough times will cause people to do crazy things," said Kenneth Springer, whose company Corporate Resolutions Inc. did the surveillance. "People are taking more precautions."

Indeed, stories of workplace violence are filling headlines of late -- the San Diego bus mechanic who killed two co-workers or the unemployed man in upstate New York whose 12 shooting victims included a receptionist and a teacher.

With such jarring tragedies, fears of violence fueled by financial worries are growing as the recession puts strain and stress on anxious workers, experts say.

Job losses, job uncertainty and slashed budgets are all pressures that could push someone over the edge.

"People are flat out concerned," said James Cawood, a security expert and author of "Violence Assessment and Intervention: the Practitioner's Handbook."

"People that are staying in companies where there has been significant downsizing and there's also been major dislocation ... are worried at every level," he said. "Even in down economic times, I'm doing more training now than I've done in years."


<p>People wait in line on tax deadline day at the main Post Office in New York April 15, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East</p>