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No. 1

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Employers & the Health Care Crisis
line Independent Contractor Conundrum
line DOL Survey on FMLA
line Domestic Violence & Workplace Bullying
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Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

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Top Domestic Violence and Workplace Bullying

In this article we will focus on two different aspects of workplace violence: domestic violence and workplace bullying.

Both of these areas of workplace violence are problematic because the outward signs are often more subtle and harder to detect than other forms of violence. Responding appropriately to them can be difficult as well.

Domestic violence and workplace bullying often aren't as dramatic as other forms of violence like shootings or physical violence on the jobsite, but their impact on people and the costs to employers can be insidious.

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Checkmark Graphic Domestic Violence

check graphic  Not just a safety concern on the jobsite

Most often employers think about domestic violence issues in the context of workplace safety. Their immediate concern is how to handle the situation if a violent partner shows up on the jobsite.

Employers now more fully realize that domestic violence has a wider reach in its impact on productivity, absenteeism and health care costs.

For example, look at the impact of domestic violence related to absenteeism on the workplace. Studies of battered women have found that 50 to 85 percent of abused women missed work because of abuse. Over half of them also arrive to work late on numerous occasions because of instances of domestic abuse.

In some cases dedicated employees can leave their jobs due to the violence against them. Studies have shown that 24 to 52 percent of surveyed battered women had lost their jobs, at least in part, because of domestic violence abuses.

Aside from safety concerns, domestic violence can also have a direct impact on job performance because abusers often harass their partners at work by stalking and telephone harassment. Abusers often sabotage the victim's ability to work in other more complex ways, such as by failing to provide promised child care or transportation, by stealing car keys or money, hiding clothing, or inflicting visible injuries to cause embarrassment and prevent the victim from going to work.

And perpetrators of domestic violence can be costly to employers as well.

Focus groups with convicted male domestic violence offenders conducted by Employers Against Domestic Violence indicated that abusers made costly and dangerous mistakes on the job and used company phones, e-mail, and vehicles in committing domestic violence. They also used paid work time to attend court for matters related to domestic violence.

In a survey of 1,200 full-time employed U.S. adults, among the individuals who identified themselves as victims of domestic violence (21% of the sample), two-thirds reported that IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) affected their ability to work, through mechanisms such as distraction (57%), fear of discovery (45%), harassment by an intimate partner at work (40%), lateness (38%), fear of intimate partner's unexpected visits (34%), inability to complete assignments on time (24%), job loss (21%), and problems with one's boss (21%); (Study by Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, 2005.)

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in 2003, nearly 8 million days of paid work are lost annually due to Intimate Partner Violence.

All of these factors show the complex and subtle nature of these crimes. Violence is the most dramatic aspect, but is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to seeing the full impact of this situation on both employers and employees.

check graphic  Senator Murray Introduces Workplace Violence Plan

In April Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Survivors' Empowerment and Economic Security Act. The bill was announced at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.

This legislation would allow 30 days of leave for victims of domestic violence in the workplace so that they could appear in court, seek legal assistance and secure their homes and families.

It also proposes giving victims of domestic violence access to unemployment insurance if they have to leave their jobs, and prohibits employment and insurance discrimination by employers based on a victim's history of abuse.

It was noted at this hearing that victim leave must be coordinated with the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and ranking member of the subcommittee, had misgivings about possible unintended consequences of the legislation, such as increasing discrimination against abuse victims and fostering litigation.

He also noted that most employers are trying to prevent violence.

Domestic violence issues in the workplace will continue to exist, but hopefully legislation will not be needed to spur employers on to deal effectively with this issue in their own businesses.

check graphic  Link to a sample Domestic Violence Prevention Policy

Follow this link to view the Sample Domestic Violence Prevention Policy.

Information provided by http://www.caepv.org/ - Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.
This is a very informative website recommended for further information.

The website states:
"Partner violence is not just a domestic matter...
The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the costs and consequences of partner violence at work - and eliminating it altogether. From policies and programs to legal issues and legislation, CAEPV is a credible source for information, materials and advice."

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Checkmark Graphic Workplace Bullying

check graphic   What is a workplace "bully?"

The dictionary.com definition of "bully" is this: "a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people."

According to the "Anti-Bullying Workplace Bill" bullying is defined as repeated "health-harming mistreatment" of one or more employees, through verbal abuse, threats, "humiliating or offensive behavior or actions," or sabotage that prevents work from getting done.

(See Bullybusters.org "National Coordinators of U.S. State Legislative Initiatives to Stop Workplace Bullying" for more information about this bill.)

Another definition comes from Quebec, which outlaws "vexatious behavior" that affects an employee's "dignity or psychological or physical integrity."

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety recognizes workplace bullying, defined as "the repeated intimidation, slandering, social isolation or humiliation by one or more persons against another," as a form of workplace violence.

check graphic  The "Anti-Bullying Workplace Bill"

Since 2003, 13 states - California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - have introduced 29 versions of the so-called "Anti-Bullying Workplace Bill," according to Bullybusters.org.

So far, the legislation introduced in the 13 states has yet to result in any new anti-bullying laws.

In Hawaii, a Senate resolution urges-but doesn't require - employers to set up anti-bullying policies for managers and employees.

For many employers bullying is considered as another form of harassment, subject to general anti-harassment policy.

check graphic  Tips for employees who are the victims of workplace bullying

  • Take responsibility first. Don't wait for HR to come around or for someone else to discover the problem. There is only so much your employer can do in most cases, but they must first be aware of the problem.
  • Treat the problem professionally. Take notes and collect information that shows a pattern of abuse. Figure out what you would like to happen to solve the problem.
  • Know the problem. Be prepared to reference specific section numbers and headings for the bullying incidents. Get copies of relevant company documents, including e-mails and reports.
  • Document the problem. Jot down the time, place, people, any quotes and/or distinct behaviors of concern for any bullying incidents. Documentation allows others to sort out the details later, as well as showing you are not just a "neurotic employee".
  • When you are ready to seek help go in with well-organized information that clearly shows a pattern and practice of abuse.
  • Get "allies". Seek the help of friends to avoid isolation.

Workplace bullying is a real problem in many workplaces. If you are an employer and need help with any HR or labor relations issues like these please contact us at Braun Consulting Group for help.

If you need help in this area feel free to contact us using our contact form.

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