Inspired by an article in the Vancouver Sun, March 11, 2004 by Daphne Bramahm: Different Assaults, Same Excuse.
I would say that at least once in our working carriers, violence in the place has or will occurred. It has happen to me: both from the employer, and from other employees, even from customers when I worked in a gas station many years ago, to a confrontation not so long ago over a union drive that almost got me a black eye and very shook up. Violence, in my opinion, is very common in the workplace, and takes many different forms and magnitude. I have always had the policy that if ever I was assaulted, whether on the job, or anywhere else, I would never hesitate to contact the police.
In 1998, I had an unfortunate encounter with a coworker, that ended with him assaulting me, while leaving the workplace. My actions: telling the employer of this terrible thing, seemed to of challenged the very core of the employer’s right to dominance on society. I did contact the police, they came and charged the person, yet, even they, the RCMP did not want to approach our employer. It was like there was a secret contract admits them that neither me nor my lawyer could find. My lawyer told me that most employers like to keep the police as far away from their affairs as possible. He figured that it has to do with control.
My employer was notified, through me by a letter letter. I informed them of what happened, and that the assault took place while leaving the workplace. Their response was moot. I was not surprisedï¿½”employers do not like to give up their control just like my lawyer said so.
I was not that educated at that time. There were several concepts that had not yet formed in my understanding the justice system and I tried my best to deal with this terrible situation best I could. I somehow managed get through it. The other person mysteriously tendered his resignation 2 weeks earlier then what he had planned. I guess he had a grudge against me, and was waiting until he was leaving to let me know this by a physical confrontation. However, he was now gone and life quickly turn back to normal.
Since that time, I have seen several fists fights and violent confrontations that have led to bloodshed in the workplace. Yet our attitudes towards our employer and our jobs seems to be revered differently then when we are on the streets or at home: to some degree. We just do not like to stand up. Maybe in fear if we do, we would loose our jobs because justice would be in the hands of the employer: a very bias judge, or the threat of further retaliations if further provocation is brought to the authorities attention. Perhaps comparing ourselves to battered wife syndrome and learned helplessness would be a accurate statement?
Our news has being dominated by the story of MR. Todd Bertizzi, a hockey player who, just recently, during a game, assaulted another player from the visiting team, severely injuring him, putting the victim in the hospital, perhaps for several weeks. The article, stated that such a harsh fine was perhaps going overboard for the type of sport hockey is and that, if you treated his team like a job, normally he would not receive such punishment. Differentiating between sports violence and white-collar violence is very tough. We are blinded by this notion that one has a place for violence and the other does not. Yet, when you weigh the criminal code of assault, there seems to be no fine line of what assault is. Yet, in our minds, if this violence occurred in the work place, we quickly will either cover it up, or go to the employer, never the police. And if it is the employer, this notion that the employer can do no wrong would set in. We would probably deny ourselves the right to go to the police, as assault is a public offense, regardless of where it took place, simply because it is the workplace.
Here is a rundown of some of the assaults that took place in the political arena or workplace according to this article:
—->December (2003) BC Liberal Elayne Brenzinger assaulted a political aid, grabbed the female aid by the neck and shook her because of some documents that got shredded.
—->Margaret Woods, White Rock Councilor, was in Surrey court on Wednesday for assaulting Councilor Cliff Annable, jabbing him in the face during a heated closed door meeting.
—->Last month veteran civil servant Mike Thomson filed a complaint with Victoria BC Police alleging that he was choked by Stephen Brown, an assistant Deputy Minister of Health. Again being choked during a heated meeting.
I will close with a quote from the last paragraph of the article, as it so elegantly points out my true feelings on this touchy subject:
So go ahead castigate Bertuzzi and the National Hockey League for allowing such violence. But spare a little outrage for the white-collar assailants who did similar things behind closed doors and then hopped that their victims and colleagues would silently close ranks to protect both them and the game. (Vancouver Sun March 11, 2004)