A workplace brawl

Q: Last week there was a brawl in our lunch room at work. Two guys started arguing and then pushing began. Then shouting and fists. These two guys have only worked for our company for a short time. HR is involved and interviewing everyone asking what we saw in the lunch room that day. The two guys are not telling everyone to “play dumb” and not to mention them by name. I was just eating my lunch and reading the paper. I don’t want to get involved. I just want to put my head down and collect my paycheck. What should I do?

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A: Oh no. This sounds like a horrible situation. A horrible situation which has turned into an awkward situation, because co-workers like you are now being questioned about what occurred. A lunch room should be a place to relax, enjoy a bite to eat, check phone messages and chat with friends.

You should certainly be honest when HR asks you what you observed that day. Not only is HR looking to make sure that they have an accurate understanding of what happened that day, but they are also need to make sure that the workplace is safe. No one should have to come to work with the fear of being physically threatened. It is frightening to think that an employee would have to be concerned about their physical safety in this manner. Since these two men are new employees that may be even more concerning. In many organizations, a physical confrontation warrants an immediate termination. HR though may be collecting facts before any action is taken. Please be honest and forthright with what you saw. I would hate to hear about an escalated follow-up confrontation.

by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC

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