Author Spotlight: Maria Greco Danaher

Give Your Company a Fighting Chance: An HR Guide to Understanding and Preventing Workplace Violence

By Christopher Anzalone Jun 26, 2015
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Maria Greco Danaher book cover

Maria Greco Danaher is author of the recently published Give Your Company a Fighting Chance: An HR Guide to Understanding and Preventing Workplace Violence (SHRM, 2015), a resource for HR professionals that provides sobering and actionable guidance for dealing with this problem. The book supports several of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) HR Competencies, including Communication, Global and Cultural Effectiveness, and Ethical Practice, and is ideally suited for midlevel, senior-level and executive-level HR professionals.

Danaher is a shareholder in the Pittsburgh office of Ogletree Deakins. She specializes in representing management in labor relations and employment litigation, and in training, counseling and advising human resource departments and corporate management on these topics. Danaher has been awarded the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell, a peer review system for lawyers, and has been named on The Best Lawyers in America list every year since 2007.

SHRM Conference Today: Why did you write this book?

The more we understand about the reasons for, progression of, and ways to address workplace violence, the better chance employers have of protecting their employees against it, or preventing it altogether.

SHRM CT: What are the two or three most important things you would like HR professionals to get out of reading your book?

How to effectively handle dispute resolution at an early stage, so as to avoid escalation into violent confrontation and how to cooperate with outside resources to construct a mechanism for preventing workplace violence, as well as developing a team approach for dealing with violent issues that may arise.

SHRM CT: You discuss the emerging nationwide trend to “ban the box.” What is it? What are the short- and long-term workplace policies employers should consider when responding to this effort?

Ban-the-box legislation is gaining traction in various states and municipalities. Those laws typically preclude employers from asking about a job applicant’s prior criminal convictions until after an initial interview. They effectively prohibit including a box on applications that applicants would check if they have ever been convicted of a crime. The challenge here is for employers to ensure that any eventual review or consideration of an applicant’s prior convictions is related to legitimate business necessity, while continuing to ensure workplace safety.

SHRM CT: What should HR leaders and people managers do to proactively reduce the risk of workplace violence?

  • Become aware of local and regional law enforcement and social resources that could assist in building a workplace violence response team.
  • Understand and train supervisors and managers on the legal responsibilities of employers, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s general duties clause and state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
  • Educate employees about the early stages of violence, which could include personal insults and use of offensive nicknames, nonverbal threatening gestures, and other nonphysical instances that, without preventive action, could lead to more serious incidents.

Give Your Company a Fighting Chance: An HR Guide to Understanding and Preventing Workplace Violence is part of the Ogletree Deakins/SHRM Employment Law Series. The book is available online and at the SHRMStore at the SHRM 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.

Chris Anzalone is manager of SHRM’s book publishing program.
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