Have you ever had a coworker or employee who had sever anger issues? I’m not talking about the occasional swear word that slips out. I’m talking about the outbursts of anger that rear their ugly heads frequently. There are some individuals who are more emotional (some may mistake this emotion for extreme passion, but it’s actually anger) than others. Sometimes this is okay because it means the employee really cares about the company and their job. And I’m talking about the bully’s at work. Workplace bullying is a serious issue because it creates a hostile work environment and not just for the individually being bullied. Bullying can consist of things like the use of intimidation to get something they want, sabotaging another employee, threats of any kind, offensive behavior of any kind, or even humiliating another employee. These are all acts of an anger problem.
When an incident occurs, an employer must be very careful how the situation is approached with the offending employee. If the employer requires the employee to go to a group anger management class, the employer would not be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because a group training class can help the individual learn to how act appropriately in the workplace. However, if the employer requires an employee to go to counseling for her anger issues it is as if the employer is requiring a medical exam, which they are not allowed to require from an employee. To avoid violation by requiring counseling, the employer must prove that the counseling is directly related to the employee’s job and is a necessary business need.
In either case, the employer should document all behaviors, concerns, complaints, all verbal and written warnings, steps taken to resolve issues, and anything else that needs to be documented. Keep in mind that individuals with anger issues likely act the same way, or possibly worse, outside of the workplace. There are individuals who are only angry at work (generally because of bad blood between one or more of the other employees in the company) are rare. Helping this individual seek help may not necessarily be your responsibility, other than to keep all employees safe, you will be doing a service to your employee.
However, as with any treatment for anything, the results of the counseling or group training will only be as good as the effort the individual put into the treatment. If she doesn’t understand or believe that there is a problem, she may be hesitant to accept help. Any company facing a situation such as this is strongly advised to consult with an attorney very early in the situation. An attorney will be able to give you legal advice on how the situation should be dealt with to mitigate the potential outcome of the situation.