Everyday Ethics

Everyday Ethics

Annie Le’s Murder: A Case Of Workplace Violence?


As lab tech Raymond Clark III appeared in a New Haven court today to be charged
with the murder of 24-year-old Annie Le, killed by “traumatic asphyxiation” just
days before she was to be married and found stuffed in a wall of the Yale lab
where she was a graduate student, the AP is reporting:


New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said Le’s death was a case
of workplace violence.
“It is important to note that this is not about urban crime,
university crime, domestic crime but an issue of workplace violence, which is
becoming a growing concern around the country,” Lewis said, adding he
wasn’t ruling out additional charges.

Also according to the AP, Yale’s
president issued a statement to the Yale community saying: 


“This incident could have happened in any city, in any university,
or in any workplace. It says more about the dark side of the human soul than it
does about the extent of security measures.”

This is a terrible story, and
what makes it doubly frightening to me is this notion of “coworkers gone
wild” or gone “postal,” as we used to say, before that became too un-PC.

The workplace ought to be safe, secure, and protected. Doesn’t that seem like one of our rights as students, as workers? Don’t we have an expectation of security? Or is Le’s murder just a sad aberration?


The cultural decline in civility we’ve all been discussing so much lately may or may not have been a factor in Le’s case, but what’s important in the larger sense is that we ask ourselves, “What is this rage so many of us seem to harbor? Why is it backing up inside us, and how can we find better, safer release valves so that folks aren’t snapping left and right?” 


Sure, this Clark fellow may have been an incurable nut (I don’t know much about him) but if we’re slinging around terms like “workplace violence” (see OSHA’s definition here) like everyone is totally familiar with them at first hearing, it means we’re all unsurprised at the idea one of our coworkers could blow a gasket and do us physical harm. We’re living with this reality every day. Yikes!


Do you have someone in your workplace who scares you? Would you like to see more precautions taken to keep you safe? (BTW: Here are OSHA’s safety recommendations, for anyone who may find them useful.)

Photo: AP


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posted September 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for bringing this up. I studied workplace violence for my job a while back. I realized that we were all focused on the effects of pandemic flu at the job, but that workplace violence was much more likely and just as much of a disaster for us as a flu outbreak. It’s a scary thought, indeed.

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posted September 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Fully agree with Yale’s president statement!!!
How to save ourselfs??? see here:

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