Phoenix Office Shooting: Why Is Workplace Violence On The Rise?
The news of another office shooting raises the question: Why is workplace violence on the rise? On Wednesday, a gunman, 70-year old Arthur Douglas Harmon, allegedly shot and killed 48-year old Steve Singer, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Fusion Contact Centers LLC, a call center company. Fusion allegedly had failed to pay Harmon $17,000 of a $47,000 contract to refurbish the offices, according to the Associated Press.
Harmon was pursuing a legal claim of $20,000 in damages when he allegedly turned violent, killing Singer and injuring two other coworkers. According to the New York Daily News, a body was found Thursday in a Mesa, Ariz.-parking lot outside Phoenix matching Harmon's description.
According to research from Dr. Larry Barton, an expert on crisis management and president of the Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based American College, this case is just one of a growing number. Dr. Barton, who collects data from his Fortune 500 clients, says workplace homicides are up 50 percent in the last year.
So what's behind the increase?
In an interview earlier this year with AOL Jobs, Barton connects the uptick to the prolonged economic crisis. "Many of us who thought the [economic downturn] was going to be a short-term hiccup," which "gave us temporary comfort." But, he noted, it has "become an ulcer."
Certainly, the stubbornly high unemployment rate -- just under 8 percent -- has not helped. Prolonged frustration seemed to fuel the past year's most high-profile workplace shooting incident, when 53-year old Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed his former co-worker, 41-year old Steve Ercolino, in August outside the Empire State Building. A year earlier, Johnson had been let go by Hazan Imports, the fashion accessories store, after a feud he had with Ercolino that led both me to file harassment complaints against each other.
This story was updated at 3:30 PM ET with news about the potential discovery of Harmon's body.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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