Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Domestic Violence Remains #1 Cause of Homicide Death in Maine

So far this year in Maine, 19 people have died by murder or manslaughter in the state. In 10 of those cases, the killer and the victim had been closely involved in a relationship, continuing an unfortunate trend in Maine homicides.

"In Maine you are far more likely to be killed by someone who loves you, or who loved you, than by a stranger," said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Maine's 19 homicides is the highest total recorded in the state since 2001, when there were also 19. The lowest number of homicides in the last decade came in 2002, when there were 14 killings, with three attributed to domestic violence. The highest number of homicides ever recorded in Maine was 40, in 1989.

This year's cases included:

Janet Hagerthy, 74, who was beaten to death in her Farmington home on Nov. 30. Her son-in-law, David Grant, has been charged with murder.

Mark Dugas, 39, who was stabbed to death in his home in Waldoboro on June 4. His wife, Amy Dugas, 32, was indicted for murder in July.

Chevelle Calloway, 41, and Sarah Murray, 71, were both shot to death at Murray's home in Boothbay Harbor on Aug. 21. Jon Dilley, Calloway's husband and Murray's son, was charged with two counts of murder.

The victims in the 10 domestic cases included seven women, two men and one 2-year-old child.
The Deprez case raised serious questions about the state's ability to protect domestic-violence victims. Days before the beating that killed her, Deprez's one-time boyfriend Gregory Erskine, 50, was jailed for threatening her with a kitchen knife and was released on bail. The judge who released him did not know that Erskine had an extensive history of domestic abuse, both with Deprez and other women. Erskine is scheduled to go on trial for murder next month.

Maine Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Cantara says the state continues to work to lessen domestic violence and create safe options for its victims who want to escape abusive relationships. He is scheduled to deliver a report in February to Gov. John Baldacci that identifies state priorities to reduce domestic violence. Cantara says police receive more training in recognizing and responding to abusive relationships than ever, and the public is more likely to report what once may have been seen as minor incidents, but he predicts that over time, some of the work will have to be done outside the criminal justice system for the number of homicides to decrease.

"It's bigger than the Department of Public Safety," Cantara said. "We are going to have to expand our efforts throughout society for the barriers of silence to be broken down."
Cantara says the courts are implementing domestic violence programs around the state in which a single judge rules on the civil aspects of an abusive relationship, such as a protection-from-abuse order, alongside criminal charges. He also cites a recent effort by the state Department of Labor to create standards within workplaces so victims can be safe and abusers cannot hide behind their jobs while they harass.

Besides the domestic cases, there is no single cause connecting other homicides in the state.
Julius Petrovic, 60, was shot to death in the Yarmouth Information Center parking area on May 15. Authorities believe he was killed in the course of an attempted armed robbery, which is a common cause of murder in other states, but rare in Maine.

Rafael Rosado III, 26, was shot to death outside his home in Biddeford on June 8. No one has been charged with causing his death. It is the only homicide this year that is still under investigation.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Update on North Carolina Wrongful Discharge Case

I recently shared about a wrongful discharge case related to domestic violence up before the North Carolina Supreme Court regarding James Edwards Imes, a bus driver and dispatcher with the city of Asheville who was fired in 2001 after his wife, Sandra, shot him in the stomach.

The North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the the decision of the Court of Appeals denying the claim in this wrongful discharge case -- so there will not be a written decision in the case). See

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Peace At Work Releases Study of Domestic Violence Assaults at the Workplace

A new study of 155 domestic violence assaults that occured in the workplace by Peace at Work reveals trends and risk factors that may guide security planning. Two recent workplace murders of women by their husbands occurred at the same time and day. As revealed in most of these cases, they both were shot in the parking lot, just before the entered their workplace.

On November 29th, two women were murdered at work by their husbands at almost the exact same time though they were a world apart. Shennel McKendall of Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Dikeledi Onica Nkatingi of Pretoria, South Africa share more than a tragic death; the factors that characterize their homicides fit the most common scenario surrounding this type of workplace violence. The majority of the 155 cases (31%) occur in the parking lot and at the beginning of the workday, just as both McKendall and Nkatingi were confronted by their killers before they began their day as receptionists.

Just as 25% of other victims who were assaulted on the job had done, both victims had attempted to protect themselves by obtaining restraining orders. In these recent cases, both abusers had violated the order but were released from jail when they committed their final act of control. Just as 77% of these crimes are carried out with a fire-arm, both of these suspects used a handgun, despite a US federal law banning gun possession of anyone who has a restraining order placed against them.

If a piece of paper could not stop these perpetrators, would other security measures? It is clear that most of these offenders are not trying to escape nor do they avoid being caught by the authorities. Forty-two percent (42%) commit or attempt to commit suicide while an additional 11% even turn themselves over to the authorities. In a dramatic example last August in Montana, Carl Yetman murdered his young wife (again, in the parking lot as she arrived at work) and then drove to the county courthouse, waiting for the doors to open in order to confess. McKendall’s husband killed himself while Nkatingi’s murderer surrendered to the police after the shooting.

Aside from the trauma of witnessing the shooting, no one but the victim was injured in these cases, similar to 75% of the incidents noted in the research. John Lee, the founder and director of the non-profit agency that produced the study, states that this may dispel a common fear that employers and supervisors may harbor. “While some supervisors may fire the victim of abuse in fear that they or other workers are endangered as well, this may actually lead to greater risk. Employees will not disclose about potential threats and concerns in order to keep their jobs.”

As with other domestic violence statistics, the vast majority (94%) of victims are female with their male (ex-) partner committing the crime. Interestingly, when the victim in the relationship is male, 75% percent are assaulted by either the woman’s boyfriend or even a hit man. These cases are not the typical domestic violence situation whereas the victim is living in fear. Often, these men apparently had to indication that their life was in danger.

In this study of workplace incidents of domestic violence, 88% occurred in the United States with the remainder mostly being in Canada and the UK. 79% occurred since the year 2000. While further research in needed, some surprising figures arise when the details of the case are known. Only eight percent (8%) of the businesses reported taking any precautions to safeguard the employee or workplace -- though in 23% of the cases, there were warning signs such as direct warnings from the employee victim or prior threats and disturbances at the workplace committed by the abuser.

Lee states there are several implications that the study provides for businesses trying to prevent a similar tragedy at their workplace. As so many perpetrators are not trying to escape, companies cannot rely solely on the traditional security measures such as increased lighting or surveillance cameras. It is vital to “target-harden” the victim, moving their work station, job site or at the very least, their parking space to reduce their exposure to risk. As local law enforcement should be notified and consulted for their support, requests can be made for patrols during shift change if that service is limited to only certain times.

Warning signs such as repeated visits, disturbances, threats and the stated or observable fear of the victim needs be addressed with an immediate response. Once a threat has been identified, management needs to pull together their internal resources such as human resources, security, employee assistance, legal consul, etc. and also community services including domestic violence agencies, law enforcement or a security consultant to assess the risk and implement protective measures. However, true prevention starts with a workplace violence policy that demonstrates support and protection for victim employees. Next, all employees need training on recognizing the warning signs and dynamics of domestic violence, how to refer to available services and the importance of notify a supervisor if there is a potential danger.

“If an employee sees their workplace as a source of support,” states Lee, “they are more likely to disclose their predicament and the potential threat to management. This initial warning is the vital first step to any security planning.” It is unknown whether the employers knew about the risk posed to McKendall or Nkatingi. However, this type of forewarning could have prompted an intervention that may have prevented their murder. When a victim has left the abuser, the one place that they can easily be found is at the workplace. That is why is crucial for companies to be informed and prepared to prevent this spill-over threat to their businesses.

Shooting At School - Teacher Dies, Husband Charged

Aysegul Candir waited until her husband was out of the country before leaving him just days ago and had lived in fear since, according to a close friend. Those fears may have been realized when the ESL teacher at Bramalea Secondary School in Brampton (Ontario, Canada) was gunned down in her workplace parking lot on December 10, prompting a complete lockdown of the school's 1,700 students and 130 staff.

Candir, 47, was pronounced dead at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre at 9:30 p.m. "She was so scared of him," said a friend of nearly 20 years, who didn't want his name used. "She was worried he was watching the high school to see when she came and left. She told me she didn't want him to know where she was living."


Police have charged her 62 year-old husband, Erhun Candir, of Bolton, Ontario with murder. Students hid under their desks in darkened classrooms for several hours while anxious parents feared for the worst following the shooting. After three hours of uncertainty, and the arrest of Erhun, the 1,700 students at the school emerged shaken but uninjured. Police said the gunman did not intend to harm the students, and the lockdown was just a precaution.

Because the late morning shooting took place in the parking lot, many of the school's students had no idea what had happened as teachers closed the blinds, turned down the lights and ordered them to sit on the floor.

"It was scary, nervous, really bad," a student named Danielle said after she was allowed to leave the school. "We didn't know anything. We were under desks. People were crying, wondering if one of the students was shot."

Witnesses saw a cool and unruffled man walking calmly away after Aysegul was shot in the head. "He was very casual. He wasn't nervous, he wasn't scared," a witness, who didn't want her name used, said. "He didn't run, he didn't walk quickly, he just kept looking behind. He didn't even drive away fast."

Ambulance crews found the victim with head wounds and without a pulse in the parking lot of the school, but were able to resuscitate her en route to a local hospital. She was later transferred to Sunnybrook, police said.

Aysegul Candir's friend said Candir left her troubled marriage a week ago while her husband was vacationing in the couple's native Turkey. Candir was "treated like garbage" in her marriage, said her friend.

Students said the teacher, who started at the school last year, was a "wonderful" person.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Victims say violence at home led to job loss

When Kathleen D'Innocenzo showed up for work at a paper-products company two years ago with a broken arm and finger marks on her face, she lost her job -- then her home, and her horse, and more.

She was fired, she said, because she was a victim of domestic violence. And now, she is following very closely a case that came before the North Carolina Supreme Court on December 7 that could prevent that from happening in the future.

"I had no income, other than child support," said D'Innocenzo, 39, whose former husband later was charged in the incident. She is now a home-health aide living in Wendell. "So you're not just a victim when the assault happens."

Twenty-nine domestic-violence groups from across the state and nation are following the case, too. All have signed on in support of the victim in the case: James Edwards Imes, a bus driver and dispatcher with the city of Asheville who was fired in 2001 after his wife, Sandra, shot him in the stomach.

Imes, who turned 59 this year, died over the summer of an unrelated illness. But his estate still pursues the case. The reason: Advocates are looking for precedent-setting workplace protections for victims of domestic violence.

"Economic security is one of the most important factors of whether a victim of domestic violence will be able to separate effectively from an abuser," said Deborah Widiss, a staff attorney for Legal Momentum, a national women's rights organization. "Certainly a court has not stated explicitly that firing someone for being a victim is against the law. This is a good place to establish the case law."

Power to fire is issue

At the heart of the case is the "at-will" employment doctrine. That legal standard, followed by North Carolina and most other states, allows employers to fire anyone at will, unless state law explicitly forbids it -- or unless doing so would violate the state's public policy.

It is that latter exception that lawyers for Imes used Tuesday before the state Supreme Court.
His attorneys argued that although domestic violence victims are not an explicitly protected class, allowing them to be fired thwarts the state's efforts to end such violence.

They argued that North Carolina has a long history of protecting victims of domestic violence. One state measure allows unemployment benefits for victims who lose their jobs or must quit; another, passed this year, prohibits employers from discriminating against victims who need time to go to court to seek domestic-violence protective orders.

"What we're saying is: You've already made clear that you can't discriminate against people for going to court," Widiss said. "It doesn't make sense if you can discriminate against them just for being a victim."

Lawyers for Asheville and its transit contractor, CCL Management Inc., argued Tuesday that to diminish employers' rights to fire for any reason would make North Carolina a less hospitable place to do business, thwarting economic development. State law prohibits firing on the basis of a few categories, including race and sex. It should be left up to the legislature to expand that list with explicit laws, the lawyers said.

"Everyone has sympathy for victims of domestic violence," said Fred Hamlet, a Greensboro lawyer representing the bus company. "However, we're a society ruled by law. And the best place to make that law is in the General Assembly, not the court."

One point not raised in Tuesday's arguments is the concern among employers that employing victims of domestic violence could prompt their abusers to do violence at the workplace -- and open employers to liability.

Beth Posner, a lawyer for Legal Aid of North Carolina who argued on behalf of Imes on Tuesday, said that allowing employers to fire someone over such concerns makes no sense because it discourages victims from telling their employers anything.

Instead of firing victims, she said, employers should take steps newly allowed by the General Assembly -- for example, one measure that allows employers to seek protective orders barring abusers from the workplace.

Termination, in contrast, "really raises the specter of further violence," Posner said. "Victims will be less likely to tell an employer and less likely to give an employer the opportunity to take safety precautions."

A decision is not likely from the court for several months.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Man kills his wife and himself at her workplace

CHAPEL HILL -- Five days after Randy Leverne McKendall was in front of a judge for violating a domestic violence protection order, police say, he jumped out of a black Ford truck outside his wife's workplace, exchanged words with her in the chilly morning air, then fatally shot her before taking his own life.

Shennel McCrimon McKendall, 37, was several hundred yards from the front door of UNC Hospitals' James T. Hedrick Building on Monday when the 34-year-old man she married nearly 5 1/2 years ago fired a 9 mm handgun at her at close range, police said. The murder-suicide took place shortly after 7:30 a.m., as UNC Hospitals employees were starting their day at the remote office building. Nearly half a dozen people saw it, investigators said. The couple's turbulent past month, one that legal officials know well, highlights the limits of protection orders and raises questions about whether a workplace can be fully protected from domestic rage.

"This is just gut-wrenching," said Kit Gruelle of Chatham County, a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence. Shennel McKendall, experts say, did everything by the book.
On Nov. 9, she sought an emergency protection order from Chatham County court officials. Her husband had so badly twisted her wrist while they argued about what to watch on TV that it bled, she told them. She also complained that in October her husband had grabbed a radio from her teenage daughter and thrown it across a room after the girl refused to turn it down.
A court date was set for Nov. 15. Judge Pat Devine was on the bench. Shennel McKendall was represented by Melissa Averett, director of Domestic Violence Civil Legal Services in Chapel Hill.
"My recollection of the hearing is that I had to admonish him, that this was very serious," Devine said Monday, referring to Randy McKendall. "He did some inappropriate laughing and smirking, which was troubling." Devine ordered Randy McKendall to stay away from the red brick home the couple shared at 612 Mitchell's Chapel Road, Pittsboro. He was not to go near his wife, to call her or to communicate with her family. He was to surrender any firearms.

A suicide threat

The very next day, court officials say, he violated the order.
On Nov. 16, Shennel McKendall told Chatham investigators that her husband had called her from the Mitchell's Chapel Road home and told her he was going to commit suicide. She heard two shots. Deputies rushed to the house. Randy McKendall was not there. But in Shennel McKendall's 17-year-old daughter's bedroom, there was evidence that a TV and nightstand had been shot. Investigators found a 9 mm shell casing. They also confiscated a rifle.

Randy McKendall was charged with violating the protection order by contacting his wife by telephone. The warrant was served in Lee County, where he had relatives. After a suicide attempt that landed him in a Lee County hospital, Randy McKendall turned himself in to county authorities Nov. 22 to be charged with violating the protection order. A magistrate released him on $1,000 bond, court records show.

Shennel McKendall was advised to stay away from her Mitchell's Chapel Road home, and she did.
On Nov. 23, after Domestic Violence Officer Cpl. Brad Johnson was briefed about the case, Randy McKendall was arrested and placed under 48-hour lockup with a suggested bail of $5,000. Johnson urged Kayley Taber, an assistant district attorney in Chatham, to seek a higher bail. Devine got the case.

"I set the bond at $10,000, and that is quite high for an alleged violation of a domestic protection order. "It's a horrible tragedy, but in this particular case, I'm satisfied that, with what we knew at the time, that we did what we could."

Randy McKendall, who had a teenage son from another relationship, was out on bail before the court-appointed public defender had time to meet with him. Where he went and what he did over the next four days is unclear. Relatives declined to comment. "I want to know where he got the gun," said Averett, the lawyer who represented Shennel McKendall.

Collecting evidence

Police were not sure when Randy McKendall arrived Monday at the Hedrick Building, which is nestled in woods nearly three miles from UNC-Chapel Hill's main campus. From witness interviews, they think Shennel McKendall parked her 1999 forest green Honda Accord in a lower parking lot, then met up with several fellow employees along the tree-lined walks.

Police were not sure whether Randy McKendall jumped out of the Ford truck with the engine on or backed it over a curb and a small tree flanking the street. They found it with the gear shift in reverse. Late Monday, investigators were collecting witness statements to piece together what happened in the parking lot. There were reports of as many as five gunshots.

Rarely do UNC police get such cases. "The last homicide was actually a similar situation, it was a murder-suicide, and that was more than 10 years ago," Maj. Jeff McCracken said.
Neither campus police nor UNC Hospitals police were aware of the couple's problems. Shennel McKendall had not sought extra protection, they said. The mood was somber at the Hedrick Building all day. Few of the 200 employees wanted to talk.

"I think people are scared because it happened at work," said Michael Barbee, who arrived about 10 minutes before the shooting. "Anybody could have been walking in at the time."

Shennel McKendall worked in the human resources department with six other co-workers. She was the receptionist that job applicants first encountered. Shaken co-workers were ushered to their cars after the event. The employment office closed. Grief counselors were on the scene.
Those who stayed shed tears as they remembered a sweet, spunky woman caught in a dark web that she had tried to escape.

Outside Shennel McKendall's grandmother's house Monday evening, aunts, uncles and cousins gathered and talked quietly near the front porch, waiting for McKendall's parents to arrive. They live in New York, where McKendall grew up, relatives said. Few knew of her marital problems.
Kenneth Dark, an uncle, lived nearby. "She was a good neighbor, but he wasn't; he wanted to fight all the time," Dark said. "If I knew it was going to get to this, I don't know what I would have done."

In the Berkley Place neighborhood in Sanford where Randy McKendall grew up, Cora McIver, a longtime resident who lived across the street, was saddened by the news Monday.
"I feel really low right now," McIver said, "because Pie -- that's what we called him -- he knew he could come talk to me. I don't know what was going on up there. He was just a fine young man to me."

Monday, November 29, 2004

Workplace Violence Research Study Released

A two year workplace violence research study by Northeastern University has been released. This research measures community responses of both workers and supervisors in Wakefield, MA in the aftermath of a December 2000 workplace violence incident claiming seven lives.

WATERTOWN, MA (PRWEB) November 29, 2004 -- Doherty Partners LLC president Stephen Doherty, the retired Chief of the Wakefield (MA) Police Department announced the release of a major workplace violence research study.This community based research was in response to the December 26, 2000 workplace shootings of seven employees at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield, MA. The research was funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety. It is believed to be the first post critical workplace violence incident research in the United States.

The two year study conducted by Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice under the direction of noted criminologist and Dean, Dr. Jack Greene sought to supply information regarding the nature and scope of workplace violence in Wakefield as well as information and ideas on what police strategies could be used to prevent and reduce the likelihood of workplace violence from occurring.Both employees and supervisors from manufacturing, construction, retail, personal services, health, social services, government, and hi tech workplaces responded to the randomized anonymous survey. Examined as well were differences in perceptions and response by industry, gender and managers versus employees.

Some major findings of the research were:
• Females appear to have a lower threshold for violence in the workplace. They also seem to be more in touch with the role that domestic violence plays in the workplace.
• Individuals can become both desensitized as well as more sensitive to certain behaviors depending on their work environment.
• There is no clear consensus on what acts and behaviors constitute workplace violence.• There is a difference in how managers and employees view the problem of workplace violence even though they are victimized at the same rate.
• Women were more likely than males to perceive that receiving threats of workplace violence was likely. Eighty percent of females as compared to 56.5 percent of males believe that they are likely to receive any type of threat.

The entire workplace violence research study is available in downloadable .pdf format at

Friday, November 19, 2004

Alaska Court Finds Domestic Violence Victim Incapacitated Enough for Leave Eligibility

An Anchorage, Alaska, police officer who fled the state after allegedly experiencing domestic violence put the department on notice that she wanted Family and Medical Leave Act leave by saying she wanted to "get her life back together" and cope with her pregnancy and emotional abuse related to the domestic violence, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled Nov. 12 (Anchorage v. Gregg, Alaska, No. S-10722, 11/12/04 ).

Upholding a jury verdict in favor of Theresa Gregg, Alaska's highest court ruled the city was aware that Gregg qualified for FMLA leave and therefore its failure to provide the necessary leave after Gregg fled the state to deal with injuries from a car accident, post-traumatic stress related to the domestic violence, and her pregnancy was an FMLA violation.

In affirming the lower court, the state supreme court found that a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder combined with Gregg's pregnancy was the type of incapacitating health condition anticipated by the FMLA and therefore the city's insistence on a contemporaneous diagnosis was misplaced.

"When an employee is actually incapacitated by illness, the failure to get a correct diagnosis cannot disqualify an employee from the Act's protection," Justice Alexander O. Bryner wrote for the unanimous court. "To hold that a doctor must agree, contemporaneously and at all times, that the employee is unable to work, places a burden on the employee that we find nowhere in the plain text of the Act, and ignores the reality of debilitating illness."

While it may be preferable to have a diagnosis at the moment the leave is requested, the court said Gregg's employer was already aware of her car accident, the pregnancy, and the alleged abuse and therefore should have known that she was eligible for FMLA coverage. Failing to offer that protection, the court said, justified a trial court's verdict.

The court added that while the FMLA permits employers to demand a contemporaneous diagnosis at the time it grants FMLA leave, the city in this case never granted the leave and therefore should not have expected Gregg to provide a diagnosis in order to reject her.

Viewed Herself as Hostage

Gregg joined the police department in 1995 and had an excellent employment record until she was involved in a car accident in 1997. The accident, which occurred in January, came as Gregg was two-and-a-half months pregnant with the child of another Anchorage police officer, who is now Gregg's husband. At the time of the accident, she was married to Michael Wimer--an Army officer--but the child was not his.

While Gregg was on sick leave because of the accident, Wimer was arrested for threatening to kill Gregg's future husband. Gregg told the police that she felt she was in a hostage situation with Wimer and that he had been mentally abusive and extremely controlling. Gregg was released to go back to work, but she remained on sick leave.

While still on sick leave, Gregg chose to travel to Florida to "work things out" and spend time with her mother. This request was approved by department officials. Wimer soon followed her to Florida and then, after they agreed to attempt reconciliation, they moved to Virginia. In Virginia, Wimer again was involved in a confrontation with Gregg's future husband, who unsuccessfully attempted to convince Gregg to move back to Alaska.

In early March 1997, Gregg's leave status was changed from sick leave to annual leave because her supervisor learned she was medically released to go back to work. Gregg requested that she be placed on leave without pay status so she could focus on "her personal issues" but that she intended to return to work, but the department rejected that request.

The denial of leave without pay appeared to be in contrast with department policy, which required such requests to be in writing. Gregg was not told that the request needed to be in writing or that she may be qualified for state and federal family leave, even though her supervisor knew the reason for her leave.

While still in Florida, her supervisor informed her that she needed to return to work in three days or she would be terminated for abandoning her position. Gregg asked for more time to "get her life together" and "deal with her pregnancy" and "deal with her injuries," but the request was again denied. Wimer ultimately faxed a copy of Gregg's signed resignation to the department, but when Gregg attempted to cancel her resignation, the request was refused.

Upon termination, she was informed she could be rehired but attempts to rejoin the force were thwarted because of a negative recommendation in her file. At a bench trial in 2001, Gregg--now divorced from Wimer--was awarded $628,706 for economic losses, but the court found liquidated damages unwarranted.

Supervisor Should Have Seen Incapacity

In affirming the decision--but remanding the calculation of interest and liquidated damages after a finding of lack of good faith--the court said that the fact Gregg was "retroactively" diagnosed with post-traumatic stress after her termination was no reason to reject the diagnosis.

"While courts have rejected retroactive diagnoses, it is generally for other evidentiary reasons, such as when the diagnosis was also speculative or given without actually examining the patient," Bryner said, adding that the city failed to identify cases showing retroactive medical diagnoses were a complete bar to establishing an FMLA claim.

In addition to the diagnosis, the court said Gregg's supervisor was aware of her condition and the multiple problems she was experiencing since the supervisor talked to her every week. The supervisor believed Gregg was so emotionally distraught that he even suggested that she may need a psychological evaluation before returning to work early in 1997.

"A reasonable person could conclude that Gregg was effectively unable to work because she fled the state to leave an abusive husband who followed her, and that she was unable to perform daily activities because she was held in a 'hostage situation,' where her behavior was dictated by the combination of fear for her children, a high level of emotional stress, her accident injuries, and her pregnancy," Bryner said.

In a footnote, the court said a victim of domestic violence is not automatically entitled to FMLA protection, but that a victim who meets the test for a serious health condition--as Gregg did--has the right to statutory leave.

Justices Warren W. Matthews, Robert L. Eastaugh, Dana Fabe, and Walter L. Carpeneti joined in the decision. Linda J. Johnson of the municipal attorney's office in Anchorage, Alaska, represented the city. Kenneth W. Legacki in Anchorage represented Gregg.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Deadly Domestic Disputes in the Workplace A Rarity

Workplace experts say incidents like Tuesday’s double shooting in Palm Springs represent a relatively rare form of workplace violence -- the kind that apparently stems from a domestic situation.But that type of incident is also among the hardest to foresee or prevent."The domestic situations that spill into the workplace are sometimes the most violent," said Steve Kaufer, co-founder of the Workplace Violence Research Institute in Palm Springs.

Kaufer was not commenting specifically on Tuesday’s incident, and investigators are still trying to piece together the circumstances. The assailant and victim were apparently an estranged boyfriend and girlfriend.However, Kaufer noted that 80 percent of workplace homicides nationwide -- of which there were 560 in 2003 -- are robbery-related. They occur most often among high-risk occupations like convenience store clerks and taxi cab drivers.Another 12 to 13 percent stem from internal workplace confrontations -- among employees, or between workers and their supervisors or customers.Kaufer said the remaining 6 to 7 percent stem from domestic situations carried into the workplace.

From initial indications, Tuesday’s incident stemmed from non-work-related matters.Because the circumstances and triggers are so varied, workplace violence defies simple preventive measures.

In the case of robbery-related violence, said California Department of Industrial Relations spokesman Dean Fryer, the answers are usually common-sense moves -- locking areas, manning shifts with more than one employee and installing security cameras.Extra wariness by employees also helps. "Know your surroundings," Frryar said. "Know who should be in the area and who shouldn’t."

But outside of robbery prevention, experts said other circumstances are harder to guard against. There may be even less that can be done if a small-business operator normally has few other employees on the premises -- the apparent shooting victim owned the dog-grooming business where the Palm Springs incident occurred.I

n places where there are several employees, Kaufer said co-workers and supervisors need to be on the lookout for emotional signs that something is wrong. An employee’s behavior or mood might change, impacting that person’s job performance and interaction with others.That could be a sign of a domestic problem that could enter the workplace in the form of violence.

Employers should be ready to refer workers to counseling agencies, and give those workers time off to address the problems.For instance, a worker might need to check in to a domestic violence shelter to deal with an abusive relationship."Every community, including the Palm Springs area, has resources available," Kaufer said.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

1 in 3 ER Patients Victims of DV in Wales, UK

One in three people treated in emergency departments in Wales for assault injuries is the victim of domestic violence, new research has revealed. The research, carried out by the University of Glamorgan also found that 75% of the victims of domestic violence treated at the emergency room were female, and 25% were male. The findings have led for calls for all hospital Accident and Emergency departments in Wales to set up referral schemes that allow victims of such assaults to readily access help and support when they are ready.

Lynn Lynch, a consultant midwife who carried out the research, said, "Domestic violence is ongoing and I am sure that these figures do not represent the true levels of abuse, they only show those who have needed emergency medical attention. There is surely a difference between these numbers and those that we do not know about."

The research, which was presented at a world conference in Florida, also discovered that in a fifth of all domestic violence attacks seen at Prince Charles Hospital, children were present. The main perpetrators of domestic violence in cases involving women were partners or ex-partners; in attacks on men, other family members were found to be largely responsible.
(Source: Western Mail, Wales UK, 11-5-04.)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Devastation of Domestic Violence

When Amherst, New York resident Ulner Lee Still had his adolescent son record a 50-minute video of Still beating and verbally abusing his wife, he did more than seal his own jury conviction.
He created a one-of-a-kind record of abuse that is now being sought by numerous police, court and domestic-violence advocacy groups for use as a training tool. Still was convicted last month on 12 counts of felony and misdemeanor assault against his wife, Susan.

"You can't understand the dynamics of the psychological damage and abuse and control unless you are exposed to it with this kind of in-your-face intensity," said Lisa Bloch Rodwin, Domestic Violence Bureau chief in the Erie County district attorney's office.
Until now, no video record of a domestic violence has been available to highlight the vicious pattern of abuse, according to experts on the subject. The closest real-life examples have come primarily from 911 calls to police.

But Susan Still has consented to release the recording of her abuse to legitimate court and police agencies for training purposes. "This video speaks for every woman and child who were not believed or thought no one would believe them," she said in a statement. "If viewing it helps one judge, one police officer, or one person take steps to save one other woman or child, then it should be used as a positive tool to end a very heart-wrenching and devastating issue in our society."

Videos that now exist to help people understand the nature of domestic violence use actors, experts said, and their performances do not always appear credible.

That is why the Still case, in which the video captured one of the assaults against Susan Still in the spring of 2003, has received immediate attention from domestic-violence and criminal-justice agencies from as far away as Australia. The video may be released to these groups after Ulner Still's sentencing in December, Rodwin said.

Those who have seen the Still video say that it is useful not just because it shows physical violence, but because the 40 minutes preceding the beating shows the husband interrogating and tearing his wife down verbally.

"It's the progression from the quiet, verbal discussion to the verbal abuse, moving into the physical abuse," said State Supreme Court Justice Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District.

The video also highlights the impact that spousal abuse has on children, she said, because Ulner Still had his 13-year-old son record the incident, and the son is heard on the recording.
In the video, Still criticizes his wife for not leaving quickly enough after she asks him what he wants for lunch and accuses her of being a bad mother.

"Don't just stand there looking stupid!" he says in the recording, compelling her to speak before he eventually throws her to the floor and attacks her.

"It sounds like a classic pattern of abuse which we have heard time and time again," said Laurie Ogden, an advocate with the Grace Smith House shelter for battered women in Dutchess County, who has requested the video. "Having this actually videotaped sounds very validating for victims who describe years and years of this type of abuse."

For many victims, the psychological abuse is worse than the physical abuse, Ogden said. But that experience is often extremely difficult to convey to law enforcement. "I think the video might really help us reach the judges and the lawyers who don't really get what the perpetrators are doing," she said.

Townsend said that she wants to use the video to train village and town judges but that she wants to obtain additional consents and ensure that showing the recording would not give Ulner Still any basis for appeal.

Ulner Still's attorney, David G. Jay, described the recorded abuse as a "momentary lapse" by a man devoted to his family.

Susan Still's former work supervisor, Lynne Jasper, has agreed to talk with local business groups about the impact of domestic violence on the workplace.
Many abuse victims are isolated from friends and family, she said, so fellow workers often are the only ones in a position to help.

"People who stay in this situation are not weak, nor are they stupid," said Jasper, who works for American Coradius in Williamsville. "They have been chipped away at and controlled and erased from having an identity."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Seeing With New Eyes

I just returned from speaking at a "Family Focus Day" at one of our member companies -- the company provided a program open to all employees focused on domestic violence and how it affects the family -- and the workplace.

I was speaking with a gentleman afterwards who told me he was amazed and intrigued that his company would spend a half a day on the topic of domestic violence in a forum that was open to everyone -- so he came.

He told me he is now "seeing with new eyes" -- he said he learned so much he'd never known and never considered before - - what the signs are, who it affects, how it impacts work, and how you can help a co-worker, friend, or family members in getting the help they need to be safe and secure.

He said he didn't think he'd ever known anyone involved in family violence before he came to the event -- but now he's not so sure.

He said what he realized is that maybe he didn't have the eyes to see and recognize it before, and that perhaps now he does.

That is what we ultimately hope for -- that by people "seeing with new eyes" in workplaces and communities, they will be able to recognize the signs, learn how to respond, and how to refer the people they care about to services that can help them.

Here's to "seeing with new eyes" -- and kudos to that gentleman and all his co-workers who took time yesterday to learn about the impact of domestic violence on the workplace.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Who can be a victim of intimate partner violence?

DVA2004 made a comment regarding my post on "It's Time To Talk Day" and I want to respond. First of all, thank you for your comment reminding people that ANYONE can be a victim of intimate partner violence -- doesn't matter what you look like, where you live, what you do for a living, where you went to school or anything else.

Since it can (and does) happen to anyone -- what you'll find on this blog are my thoughts and information I've found about how to help people -- whether they are male or female, batterers or victims.

I think we can all agree that the one place we should be safe and secure is in our own homes -- and from there, I think that the workplace has a great opportunity to reach out and provide employees with information and referrals so they can get help for themselves and their families. Employers also have a great opportunity to provide policies and programs that allow those involved in family violence to seek help.

As one person told me -- if it were not for the fact that my workplace has a program to deal with this issue, not only would I probably not have a job today -- I probably would not be alive today.

Thanks for listening!

Website for more information on this topic

Someone made a comment and asked about our website address. First of all, thank you for your comment. Secondly, the website address is Hope you find it helpful!

The Flu

Here's something interesting (to me, anyway) -- One expert from an organization called CCH Inc. (which tracks workplace trends) estimates that unscheduled absences from flu and other illnesses typically run a company about $610 a person a year. They indicate that for large companies, the tab can be as high as $1 million in unscheduled absences.

If the loss is $610 per person a year for the flu -- imagine the cost per employee for partner violence! Partner violence doesn't just happen during the winter months, and the CDC estimates that about 8.0 million days of paid work are lost each year due to intimate partner violence. That's the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs. They also say that it is nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity lost as a result of the violence.

Now -- THERE'S something I think employers should be worrying about!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

It's Time to Talk

Well, it's officially here -- the first ever "It's Time to Talk" Day to raise awareness of domestic violence by asking people to do something really simple. . . take a moment to talk about the issue.

There are some pretty cool things going on across the country today -- last night they lit the Empire State Building in recognition of the "Day," today there are police departments across the country with purple ribbons on their antennas, towns are having town hall meetings to "Talk," businesses are providing special materials and programs to employees, companies are hanging posters encouraging people to talk. . .all kinds of cool and creative things.

So, just talk, right? Well, it sounds easier than it may be for most people. Here are some ideas for getting the conversation started:

- If you plan to talk with someone you think is being abused, do so in private. Make sure the person who you think is doing the abuse is not present and make sure that both you and the survivor have the time available to talk. Focus on your concern for your friend's safety, and, if relevant, the safety of that person's children children. Something as simple as " I notice you've missed a lot of work lately, is everything OK at home?" may be a good way to start the conversation. Another suggestion is "I noticed you had some bruises and I'm worried about your safety. Is someone hurting you?" If these don't work and you really think this person is being abused, try again in a few days, just make sure that you are focusing on safety and not being judgmental.

It may also be helpful to say it this way "You know I really care about you, and you are important to me. I've been noticing some things lately (identify what warning signs you saw -- bruises, fighting with partner, fear of partner, partner controlling money, friends, family, clothing, etc.) and I am concerned about you. I would rather have you mad at me than anything bad ever happen to you, so I just want to ask you – are you safe in your relationship?" The power of talking with a friend in this way is that you make certain they understand you are coming from a place of caring and concern -- and that you are willing to risk them being mad at you -- which they may be-- for the sake of their safety.

- When talking to kids, it's important to also focus on the healthy aspects of a relationship and it's never too early to start! Let kids know that healthy dating includes mutual respect and non-violence. Let kids know that healthy relationships are relationships where conflict is resolved non-violently and teach kids ways to solve problems without violence. Discuss with kids the ways that men and women respect each other and discuss expectations about mutuality in a relationship. Two great resources for parents who want to talk to kids about healthy relationships can be found at and also at Talking early and talking often is the motto for talking to kids about relationship violence.

- Get to know the resources in the community.

- Remember that there is help and hope for those that are abusive in relationships. If you are concerned that you may be abusive to your partner, take the time to check out the warning signs, and talk to a professional. There are special programs to address abusive behaviors in most communities -- and in many states, there are certified programs.

- Respect yourself, your partner and those around you and let people know how important you think healthy relationships are. Your actions will tell others just as much as your words.

Often, the hardest part of talking about domestic violence is simply getting started. Once you've figured out how to start a conversation, the rest may simply come naturally. Many domestic violence survivors don't seek help because they think that no one will believe them or that no one cares. Speaking up lets survivors know that you care, that you believe and that no one needs to face violence alone.

Let's get the conversation started today. . . and keep it going!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Free Research Opportunity Available to Employers

From Dr. Emily Rothman -

I am an assistant professor at Boston University currently funded by the CDC to study domestic violence prevention in the workplace. I am currently seeking an employer with an interest in being on the forefront of developing a strategy for preventing the perpetration of domestic violence by addressing the wellbeing and health needs of men in the workplace. Involvement would not require funding from the employer. No invasive survey procedures will be used. Employer will benefit by receiving 'free' analysis of how to encourage men to participate in workplace wellness programming at your specific company, and if desired, positive publicity for participating in a cutting edge violence prevention effort. Please contact me to discuss this further if you are interested. I can be reached at - or (617) 414-1385. Thank you.

Anni Knows Best

Want to check out a great website? Check out GirlsAllowed at -- the SXSW 2004 award winning web site as well as an official "Cool Site of the Day."

The website was created for girls ages 11-14 and provides daily "webisodes" regarding Anni's life -- including issues like bullying, healthy body image, dating, breaking up, and a host of other issues. The thing I really like about the site is that it does not talk down to kids -- it tries to be entertaining and informative without being preachy or condescending. As one girl put it: “I would just like to recommend a great site that gives u great advice. Go to it will help u with problems such as friends, boyfriends, and peer presure. No this is not one of those 'bubblegum' sites where its all about say hi to the guys then blah blah blah it is so real just wanted to let u know.”

Each episode has a "daily activity" to follow up on what happens in Anni's life -- as well as a guide for parents and educators that want to use GirlsAllowed as a learning and teaching tool.

And it is not just for girls -- we've heard from dads and boys, and even groups of women who get together and discuss the episodes in Anni's life.

Here's a few examples of what some people have to say about GirlsAllowed:

"A great site which gives advice to young girls in the form of an animated diary. Entertaining, educational and not a trace of condescension to be found, if only they had something like this for males in their late twenties."

"I am the school counselor at Maplass Corner Elementary School in Burgaw N.C. Last year I directed a after school group of 5th grade girls we called Girl Power. Each time we met we would go to the Girls Allowed web site, read about Anni and have a discussion. Your web site is wonderful! It really opened up a line of communication with the girls... they began to understand that other people are going through the same things that they are and they were able to talk together about what it's like to be a 5th grade girl. I am looking forward to having more after school Girl Power groups this year and using your web site! Thank you so much for your web site."

"It helps girls with everyday situations that they face, such as boyfriends, friend probs, family probs, and tons of other stuff. There's this animated character, Anni, who faces these problems and shows us how to solve them."

“It's tough being a kid today. There are opportunities, temptations and situations that may be new to your world but are an everyday part of an adolescent's life. Young women may even have more of a challenge, on several levels. Girls Allowed, at, would like to help young women get through this time in their lives. The site follows the life of main character Anni, who lives at home with her Mom, Dad and half sister. Anni is a typical teenager who experiences all the angst, confusion and hormonal juggling that takes place during those years. Lessons on how to establish build and maintain healthy relationships are the underlying theme in the Flash site. It also encourages women to honor themselves, to be treated with respect and to be valued for qualities that make them special.” (The Houston Chronicle)

So -- head to and let me know what you think!

(Note you will need Flashplayer to use the site, but that is an easy and FREE download.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been awesome so far here at CAEPV! I've been privileged to talk with managers, lawyers, healthcare workers, business owners, and members of the media across the country about domestic violence and how the business community can - and does - respond to this issue. To see what some of our members are doing across the US to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month, visit

I am also very excited about October 14 -- the first ever national "It's Time to Talk Day." It's not too late for you to commit to simply "take a moment to talk" this Thursday! For ideas, visit the official "It's Time to Talk" web site at You can also check out ideas and resources on the CAEPV website at


BANGOR, MAINE -- With the incidence of domestic violence rising steadily in Maine, the state is looking to Maine businesses to step up to the plate to help "stop one of the most serious public health threats of all time." Gov. John Baldacci signed an executive order on October 7 charging all state agencies to craft and implement domestic violence policies. Recalling the 1989 murder-suicide of Patricia Crowley, who was shot to death by her husband while she worked at a Bangor travel agency in downtown Bangor, Baldacci pointed out that "domestic abuse does not end when the victim goes to work." "I was a legislator representing Bangor at that time, and that case had a profound impact on me," he told a crowd of about 90 business owners and representatives during a one-day seminar at a Bangor hotel.

In 2001, Maine became the first state in the nation to adopt a law mandating employers to provide employment leaves for domestic violence victims or to the immediate families of those victims who need time to either attend court hearings or seek medical or mental health services. During a recent survey in Maine, 53 percent of the domestic violence victims interviewed said they lost their job at least in part because of the violence.

Policies would encourage company employees to approach potential victims and make referrals to domestic violence programs. They would encourage training and put into place confidentiality allowances that would let employees come forward to ask for help without fear of retribution. (Source: Bangor Daily News)

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Violence Policy Center (VPC) recently released When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2002 Homicide Data. This annual report, which details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, illustrates the unique role firearms play in female homicide. The study is being released to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

In 2002, the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report, firearms were the most common weapon used by males to murder females (928 of 1,733 or 54 percent). Of these, 73 percent (679 of 928) were committed with handguns. Alaska ranks first in the nation in the rate of women killed by men. Ranked behind Alaska are: Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, South Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, North Carolina, and Alabama. Nationally the rate was 1.37 per 100,000.

Study author Marty Langley states, "These numbers should serve as a wake-up call to the states with the highest rates of female homicide. In identifying solutions to domestic violence, the role firearms play must be addressed." (Source: The Violence Policy Center with thanks to Barry Nixon for forwarding this information.)


Want a great way to show everyone that "Love Is Not Abuse"? Visit and check out the t-shirts, gloves, and scarves available for purchase from Liz Claiborne. Proceeds benefit the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Family Violence Prevention Fund.


Please join the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Liz Claiborne, State Farm Insurance Companies, Verizon Wireless, ASIS, AAOHN, IPRC, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence as we present Partnering in Workplace Violence Prevention: Translating Research to Practice November 15 - 17, 2004 in Baltimore, Maryland. This is the first time that NIOSH has convened a conference on the topic of workplace violence prevention and we are excited to partner with them in this initial effort.

Conference registration is FREE, and the conference will cover all four types of workplace violence. For more information (including the agenda, on-line registration, hotel information, and more) visit

Conference registration is only open until the end of October so make sure you don't miss out -- we hope to see you there for this first of its kind conference!

(If you are interested in being a financial sponsor of the conference along with those named above, it is not too late! Contact us here at the Corporate Alliance for details or contact Matt Bowyer at NIOSH at

BOOKMARK THIS! -- This link leads to When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2002 Homicide Data. This study was released by the Violence Policy Center and is mentioned in the "IN THE NEWS" item earlier.


Welcome to the domestic violence and the workplace blog created by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence -- an opportunity for those involved in creating domestic violence programs in workplaces to share information and ideas.

Today's post is about October 14, 2004 -- the first ever "It's Time to Talk Day" declared by Liz Claiborne and Marie Claire magazine. Imagine a single day where women and men, teenage girls and boys, grandmothers and grandsons turn to each other and actually talk about a problem that is more common than breast cancer and more insidious than AIDS. A problem that by its nature, makes people uncomfortable–domestic violence.

Working together, communities nationwide can assure that on this day, Americans everywhere will be talking in classrooms, offices, homes, and coffeehouses, about the fact that in the US, 25 percent of women, and 7 percent will be abused by someone they love in their lifetimes. (Source: US Department of Justice.)

Law enforcement, service providers and government officials alone cannot prevent people from abusing those they claim to love. But everyone can take this initiative and make it their own – helping to reach millions of people over the course of one day. This important issue is already on the minds of American women: Marie Claire’s August 2004 Gallup poll revealed that 82 percent of women consider violence against women a top concern—above improved education, above child safety, above environmental damage.

You can make a difference on October 14th. Talk to someone in your life about domestic violence. If you’re not sure how to get the conversation started please visit see CAEPV’s “It’s Time to Talk” page at Now imagine a day when we won’t need to talk about domestic violence ever again. Please join us in making this dream a reality.

For further information about “It’s Time to Talk” or domestic violence issues contact Kim Wells, executive director of the CAEPV at 664-0667 or