Employers often don’t realize that domestic violence is affecting their business. Domestic violence reaches every facet of our community, including the workplace. According to DomesticShelters.org*, domestic violence causes victims to lose 175,000 days of work per year in the United States. Here are a few of the ways an abuser can cause trouble in the workplace:
- Limit access to transportation so the survivor misses work
- Try to control phone calls or conversations with customers
- Expect the victim to be home at a certain time
- Call frequently, distracting the victim
- Come to the workplace and be verbally or physically abusive
- Isolate the victim from having friendships with coworkers outside of work hours.
A friend of mine is a manager at a fast food restaurant. She called me many times asking me for advice on how to help one of the young cashiers at her restaurant. Apparently, this young woman** often came to work with bruises all over. This distracted many of the other employees who were rightfully concerned about their co-worker. The management team spent many hours trying to figure out how to help this young woman. Many customers were also upset when they saw her bruising. Yes, domestic violence does affect the work place.
Interestingly, it isn’t only the victim who causes issues at work. Many employers don’t realize an abuser might be working for them. Abusers look great on the outside, but that employee who appears so charming might:
- Use a company cell phone or vehicle to follow, stalk or harass a victim
- Use a company computer to contact, threaten or stalk a victim
- Make threats that other employees overhear
- Be late or miss work because of their activities toward the victim
- Create a threatening atmosphere in the workplace.
If you are an employer, and suspect you have a victim in your workforce, what can you do? For a first step, I recommend getting educated about DV. Tweet This
Educating yourself about DV before you suspect domestic violence in your workforce would be wise. Look for DV crisis centers and shelters near your office. Domesticshelters.org is a great place to do this. Contact a local center and ask if they will come to your place of business and present a training course on domestic violence for your managers and employees. Many will be happy to do this at no charge. Or you can contact Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence that offers workshops and speakers, and Human Resource Essential that offers webinars and personalized consulting services for companies. If you suspect someone in your company is a domestic violence victim and you’re organizing a training session, you can give the trainer some details so he or she can include information that might encourage the victim to seek help without drawing attention to the victim.
Once your employees have been educated, you can begin changing your policies. These policies might allow for time off for a victim to manage safety issues or access to an employee assistance program for help. If you have an employee who is isolated or alone at work, like a front-desk receptionist, you might want to have a policy that calls for a safety code word or an emergency buzzer. Human resources professionals can recommend a person talk to an advocate at a domestic violence shelter to learn about safety planning, or point an employee to a site like DomesticShelters.org, so that the individual can learn more about the different types of abuse that exist. Another option is to put information on resources available in a place where all employees can easily come across it, such as a lunchroom, bulletin board or intranet site, then letting everyone know those resources can be found there during a general meeting.
Once your workforce is educated, you can come up with a plan to assist a victim. Tweet This
Plans may involve:
- Moving a survivor’s desk
- Making sure coworkers and employees see a photo of the abuser so they would recognize him or her
- Making people aware of restraining orders
- Involving the victim before taking any action, since the s/he knows the situation best.
Why should an employer spend time and money educating their workforce about DV? In the long run, it could save them money, or even save an employee’s life. But also, it is the right thing to do. As James 4:17 says:
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
And in Matthew 22:39, Jesus said:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you are an employer who would like to know more about domestic violence, and need more specific help than this, please contact me via my contact form.
Question: Has domestic violence ever affected your place of work?
May the Lord give you wisdom and a heart for others as you consider domestic violence policies for your workplace.
* Statistics and information supplied by Domesticshelters.org. Click here for the original article.
** Note: abusers and victims can be either male or female.