Kraft Foods Tragedy Highlights Need For Employer Vigilance

Employment / Personal Injury / Business

The tragic shooting deaths of two employees at the Kraft Foods plant in Philadelphia is a stark reminder that violence can happen anytime in any workplace, large or small.  The following are some steps that can be taken at relatively minimal cost to diminish the likelihood of violence in the workplace:

  • Communicate a zero tolerance policy to employees through employee handbooks and periodic memos or other notices.  Any act of violence or threatened act of violence is grounds for discharge.  No second chances regardless of the circumstances.  Be sure to carry out the policy if an act of violence or threat occurs.


  • Hold training for staff on how to defuse workplace conflicts that could lead to heated tempers and violence or threats.


  • If an employee is discharged for violence, inform him or her that a return to the workplace will result in the police being summoned.


  • Inform other employees to immediately summon police if the offender returns to the workplace.


Larger employers with larger budgets may have to consider more expensive measures to protect their employees including security systems to prevent unauthorized access to the premises.  Progressive employers may also consider employee assistance programs to provide counseling and treatment to stressed out or mentally disabled employees before the situation becomes volatile.


With regard to the Kraft Foods incident, I have only the information reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  However, when evaluating whether the incident could have been prevented, or at least could have ended without bloodshed, I wonder whether this was the first time the perpetrator acted out violently or whether earlier threats were ignored?  The company correctly escorted the employee from the building to her car before the incident.  While no one can blame the security guards for opening the gate with a .357 magnum pointed at them, how did the perpetrator gain access to the building?  And wasn’t there a way for the security guards to communicate the danger to those inside, especially the three employees who had just given statements against the shooter, so they could be hidden away in a locked room somewhere until police arrived?

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