gangs in the workplace

Good morning.


I am wondering if anyone has any information regarding employer rights if they see or suspect gang activity in the workplace.

What are the specifics of what employers can and cannot do, aside from early screening.  Does tis need to be specified in a policy?

Or what if an employer  conducted early screening and
now has an employee who is showing signs that concern them but  does not
necessarily break any rules?


thank you.





  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I haven't really had to deal with the issue of gang activity in the workplace, although I do volunteer is some youth programs in my city where there have been issues. When you say "suspected gang activity" I'm guessing you mean individuals wearing gang colors and slogans, perhaps trying to recruit other employees (in some cases this could take the form of intimidation or threatening behavior). You might also be dealing with instances of "tagging" or marking walls with graffiti. Finally, gang activity could mean other illegal activities such as selling illegal drugs or violence.

    If you are dealing with tagging and/or suspect intimidation or other illegal activities, I personally think it would be a good idea to contact local authorities who can help assess the situation to determine if in fact the employer is right to suspect gang activity. They can help deal with unlawful conduct.

    In addition, the employer will want to deal with other behavior in a manner that is consistent with company policy. If the dress code is an issue, the employer may need to enforce it more strictly or revise it to try to eliminate gang slogans, colors, and other related dress in the workplace. Keep in mind that the code must be enforced consistently for all employees and not just those suspected of gang activity. The employer may also want to look at its workplace rules related to threatening or intimidating behavior and make sure these are enforced as well. If employees are engaging in activity that is disruptive in the workplace, it should be dealt with accordingly.

    As you mention in your post, this is one reason why thorough preemployment screening is a good idea. 

  • You probably already have some things in place in your policies that can be applied to gangs; specifically, a policy against threats and intimidation, especially involving comments or threats about weapons. 

    It might be time to establish a crisis management team to review potential problems and solutions on gang activity. Include supervisors and managers from departments where you suspect gang problems. And contact the local police; the department probably has an officer specializing in gang issues who can be a resource for your company.

    Also, you might want to establish a means where other employees can report threats by gang members anonymously. You can also conduct anonymous "security surveys" of all employees with carefully worded questions to elicit their concerns.

    Also, review your dress code and amend it to prohibit the wearing of "gang colors" if applicable.

    And look over your screening process for new employees or you could face a negligent hiring lawsuit if gang violence breaks out in your workplace.

  • You have the right and responsibility to prevent and address any illegal activity in your company. The terms "gang" and "gang activity"  are loaded ones, so it would be better to describe the actual behavior you witness or suspect. The same goes for an employee you suspect is abusing alcohol.  It would be a bad idea to use the term "alcoholic."  Instead, it would be better to describe the specific behaviors witnessed and connect them with company policies, such as smelling of alcohol, showing up to work in dirty clothes, increases in absenses.
  • I couldn't agree with SFbay more--I think you should  address workplace behavior for what it is instead of taking it upon yourself to designate it as gang activity. An act of intimidation or violence should be treated for what it is regardless of why you suspect it is taking place.  I can't see how, for example, you're supposed to know what colors are 'gang' colors or clothing are, and prohibit them. This could be a moving target.

    If you feel that there is some sort of growing tension at your company between individuals or groups of individuals who aren't getting along, address it with each of them and remind them of your policy (hopefully zero tolerance) against workplace violence. Tell them what you've observed in terms of their behavior, not your speculation as to the root of the problem. I wouldn't make any policies that single out gangs.


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