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Terminations & Workplace Violence - FAQs


Security experts agree that a majority of workplace shootings are the result of mishandled terminations. When an employee is terminated, whether for cause or not, tensions can be high, and how individuals respond to stress varies dramatically. Generally, terminations are overseen by Human Resources and while their role is integral, security professionals should also be included in the termination process.


Preventing workplace violence and workplace shootings may not be as realistic a goal as reducing the likelihood of their occurrence. Every employer should aspire for their employees to enjoy their positions, be productive and interact amicably with team members. However, this is not always possible, so employers should regularly train their employees on the “red-flags” associated with workplace violence. The simple adage of, “see something say something” must be instilled in all employees.


Depending on the size of an organization, the Human Resource Office, or Officer needs to be strategically positioned to receive early indications of employees experiencing issues. This can be reflected in tardiness, absenteeism, poor productivity or simply a change in demeanor. Once HR is involved, communication with the Security Department is essential. This preliminary notification does not warrant e a security response, but rather raises awareness. When disciplinary action becomes necessary, security intervention is required. First, conduct a background investigation into the individual. Has the employee been the subject of law enforcement attention, i.e. citation, domestic dispute, injunction, arrest? Does civil court records research reveal a pending separation or divorce? Does the employee have a concealed weapons permit, a hunting license? Although none of these items are individually predictors of ill-intent, or violence, they do raise concern levels.


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the best manner of handling a termination? There is no “best-way!” However, when the dignity of the person being terminated is maintained, the likelihood of a violent episode reduces significantly. With few for-cause exceptions, assisting the employee being terminated with instructions regarding filing for unemployment benefits, job search support and when appropriate, severance, reduces the likelihood of the terminated employee causing issues.

  • Who is going to handle the actual termination? Hiring outside security experts to manage and assist with terminations should be considered. Experienced security and investigative professionals are trained in de-escalation techniques and can identify potential concerns.

  • Where is the best place to terminate an employee? If management determines termination will likely be contentious, terminating off-site should be considered. If red flags were not identified, then a predetermined protocol where least likely to embarrass the employee is desired.

There is no more traumatic, often life-altering, emotional feeling of regret, than the employee who has to acknowledge that they may have prevented a tragedy, if they had said something.


The Mulholland Investigation & Security Consulting staff has supported clients with many successful, uneventful terminations. If contemplating any termination or Reduction-in Force (RIF) we will be pleased to provide expert consultation and support. We can be reached at 904 354 7989.