Preventing domestic violence in the workplace
As with an earlier post, you may not think that domestic violence (DV) is an issue for your company or security department. Unfortunately, it has become a significant security risk issue for companies and you the security professional to handle. While we can’t stop it, we can help to mitigate the damage done to both the victim and company.
There are a few steps that can be taken to minimize injury to the victim and lessen the liability of the business. Will these tips below stop every single incident on company property? Probably not, but if you follow these few tips and make your own, then you will be getting a good start on assisting the victim to stay safe and limiting your liability.
Physical injury will be what a victim suffers from outwardly. However, it is the psychological trauma that can, and more than likely will, follow them for the rest of their lives. I’m sure that none of us wish for that to happen to a co-worker or friend, in or out of the business. Here are some tips and ideas to get the ball started on assisting the victims in making them feel safe, at least at work. It will also help you to begin building trust and confidence, or more of it, in you and the company.
- Listening and actually believing that the employee may be abused. If the victim is male or the abuser is ‘charming, suave, and debonair…’ it may be hard to believe. But unless an actual investigation is undertaken by the police or other such agency… which is where the trust and confidence in you comes into play.
- Looking for the signs of abuse, even if they deny it. These are numerous in and of itself and sometimes not so easily spotted:
Long sleeves, slacks, and/or turtle necks in summer
Constantly wearing sunglasses
Jumpier than they would normally be
While discussing their bruises they joke about their clumsiness
Constantly coming into work with minor injuries
Becoming a loner and staying quiet when the opposite had been true
Alienating friends both at work and elsewhere
Frequent unsettling phone calls either on company phone or their cell
Of course there are numerous other signs of abuse. Contact a local domestic abuse shelter and get as much information as you can to disseminate to employees.
- Security procedures for an abused employee to protect them while at work. This is where your expertise as a security professional comes into play. You know when and where you can do little things to pump up the security program to make the facility more secure and keep anyone out who isn’t authorized:
Issuing a photo of the abuser and keeping them off the property
Ensuring that all doors are secured with no exceptions for ‘just this once’
Not allowing people to tailgate into the building
Adapting a high visibility of security in and around the parking lots and building
Ensuring that surveillance doesn’t become slack for as long as necessary
Never allowing an attitude of ‘I know them we’ll do it just this once’
Having your security officers, or supervisor, escort the employee when necessary
While these may be standard practice they need to be reiterated and strictly enforced. There are other procedures that you can tweak to protect one employee as well.
- Employee Assistance programs (EAP) for references to resources to help them, including shelters. This may be up to an EAP provider; however you need to find one to allow your employees to utilize them. They may not be cheap, but the only other recourse you may have is to keep a list of resources with HR and/or publish it for the taking.
- Can you provide any legal, security, or spiritual assistance? Don’t let your legal department tell you that you are treading on thin ice. If necessary refer them to the EAP for these items, especially legal and spiritual but security is our responsibility.
- Can you provide a certain amount of compassionate, paid, leave? In other words can you give the employee time off to take care of legal issues, court dates, children, and so on. It may take some jiggling of your companies financial resources to do this but it is worth it most of the time. You can’t jettison an employee because they are having DV issues or as a result of DV. Going along with this is not counting their absences against them during this time, which according to policy could get them fired.
If you don’t remember: in the early 90s, an employee took leave to care for his young son who was dying of leukemia, I believe. When he returned to work he was disciplined for having let his job performance suffer because of his son’s illness and then burying a 6-year-old. He shot and killed several managers, union reps, & supervisors in the termination meeting a week later.
(Look for the 2nd part of this post next week)
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be blind but my vision is crystal clear