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ADA Mental Disability Protection and Workplace Violence - Avoiding the Hobson’s Choice
William C. Strock
Legal Duties and Employer Liability
A stressful work environment, potentially violent employees, and a legal right to carry a weapon create a dangerous mix. Employers are pinioned between two statutory mandates and must consider traditional common law tort principles in dealing with workplace violence, however. On the one hand, the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires that employers accommodate workers with mental disabilities. On the other hand, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OSHA”) requires that employers furnish each of its employees a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to its employees. Moreover, employers could also be liable for breaching their duty of care in hiring, training, supervising, and retaining employees.