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Jan. 27 — When it comes to assessing the different types of threats employees might experience in the workplace, domestic violence is a “sticky area” for employers but something that must be addressed, a management attorney told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 26.
“Every employer needs to have an updated, state-of-the-art workplace violence policy,” and it must specifically include domestic violence, said Terri Solomon, shareholder in the New York office of Littler Mendelson. Nearly 40 percent of all workplace homicides of female employees are caused by a relative or domestic partner, she said.
According to Solomon, a domestic violence policy should include the following:
In a Jan. 21 webinar sponsored by Littler Mendelson, Solomon said most of the millions of assaults by domestic partners or spouses go unreported.
Employers should be on the lookout for the warning signs of domestic violence so they can be proactive in protecting their employees and themselves, she added. Those signs include:
Employers also should make employees aware of the company employee assistance program, whether for medical, mental health or other needs, Solomon told Bloomberg BNA.
Still, Solomon warned that it might be difficult for HR, managers or co-workers to intervene even when the signs of domestic violence are apparent. In many of these instances, she said, the employee denies that it's happening. Unfortunately, that means the individual is held to the same attendance standards and performance standards as everyone else, Solomon said, when an employer could be helping her through the difficult time.
However, sometimes an employer's assistance isn't enough, Solomon said. In many instances, the cycle of domestic violence means a person will take the appropriate steps to get out of the abusive relationship, only to return to the abuser after a period of time.
“It’s a very difficult situation, and in my experience, most employers really do want to help,” Solomon said, and a detailed policy is the best way to start.
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