CASE STUDY: On February 25, 2016, Cedric R. Ford was served with a domestic violence restraining order on behalf of his estranged intimate partner while at work at Excel Industries in Kansas.
Later an enraged Ford shot three co-workers to death and also wounded 14 other people. Ford was shot and killed by law enforcement, putting an end to the carnage.
What role the restraining order played in triggering the massacre will never be fully known. What is known however that Ford began shooting 90 minutes after being served at work.
DISCUSSION: Not all employees who are served with process will engage in workplace violence.
However when workers are served legal paperwork wholly unrelated to their jobs, there will likely be at a minimum a disruption as the employee reads that subpoena to appear as a witness to a party suing a grocery store after a slip and fall; or is served with notice to appear at deposition in the lawsuit the employee filed against an auto insurance company following a car crash or as in Ford's case is served with a restraining order on behalf of an estranged intimate partner/domestic partner/spouse.
Following service the best possible result is that the employee will temporarily stop working to figure out what the legal documents mean which impacts productivity.
However, others may feel embarrassed about a process server handing him or her with legal documents in front of colleagues.
In the worst case scenario the documentation could cause the employee to boil over with rage and react.
THE SOLUTION: Does your organization have a written policy requiring legal process to be served outside of the workplace?
If not consider addressing this recommendation with legal counsel.