The American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates has adopted as Model Workplace Policy on “Employer Responses to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking.” The policy comes as a response to the need for businesses to help protect employees from violence.
In 2012, Jessica Kenny was working the evening shift at the concierge desk at Excalibur in Las Vegas when her ex-boyfriend strode through the door and shot her to death. In 2008, Cindy Bischof’s ex-boyfriend, a convicted domestic abuser, murdered her in the parking lot of the real estate company where she worked. In 2007, Rebecca Griego was shot to death at her desk at the University of Washington by her ex-boyfriend.
Pam Paziotopoulos, senior vice president with corporate safety consultancy Forest Advisors and a former domestic violence prosecutor, believes that employers can help prevent such tragic events. Paziotopoulos says, “Domestic abusers may not know where their victims live, but they do know . . . where they work. They know what time you get there, what time you take your break. That’s how abuse moves to the workplace.”
The ABA policy follows Paziotopoulos’ logic, encouraging employers to enact formal policies on workplace responses to domestic, dating, sexual, and stalking violence. The ABA is asking employers to enact policies that will address prevention as well as remedies, and provide help to employees who experience violence.
One of the main things the ABA policy seeks to do is encourage employers to make their employees feel comfortable reporting abuse. This can help the employers, as well as employees, violence can also affect the corporate bottom line. For example, if an employee is being harassed with repeated phone calls, his or her productivity is decreased, and they likely fear losing their job. Domestic violence-related injuries can also result in lost work and health insurance claims.
Employers can learn more about the ABA recommendations and see sample policy language here.