Domestic Violence Can Enter Workplace

Because domestic violence can carry over to the workplace, here are several ideas to combat the problem without incurring significant costs.

Most victims of domestic violence are employed, and most employed victims are harassed by their abusers while at work, says Wayne Moon, chief executive officer of Blue Shield of California.

Because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Moon offers several ideas to combat the problem without incurring significant costs:

  • Increase employee awareness by training all employees how to find help for themselves and how to reach out to co workers who may be victims.
  • Train managers to identify the signs of abuse and respond appropriately.
  • Allow time off for domestic violence-related needs. Adapt or apply policies to include opportunities for abused employees to get help.
  • When addressing performance problems caused by domestic abuse, be sure to give an abused employee time to get help and improve job performance.
  • Make sure all employee service departments and managers know the right resources in which to refer employees for help.
  • Post the number of a domestic violence service provider in locations, such as women's rooms, where employees who need help will see it.
  • Have an organized response to direct threats of domestic violence that may occur at work.

One of the best ways to create a supportive environment, Moon said, is a policy of zero tolerance. Yet, many companies do not even have a domestic violence policy.

"Because workplace harassment is usually low-profile, such as continual phone calls or stalking to and from work, many companies view domestic violence as unrelated to the world of work," he said. "When an abuser stalks or attacks in the workplace, the employer has a security and safety issue to deal with. Employers who are not prepared to respond to domestic violence in the workplace may be liable under any of several laws, including occupational, safety and health; family and medical leave; victim assistance; and state and federal anti-discrimination."

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