Friday, July 27, 2007


I am really excited about CAEPV Member Safe Horizon's planned national launch of SafeWork, an initiative to help corporate leaders keep their employees safe and protect their bottom line.

We have been a national partners in the SafeWork initiative since 2005, and we will be joining Safe Horizon on September 25th for a day full of exciting events.

The launch corresponds with CAEPV Member Liz Claiborne’s annual It’s Time to Talk Day, and Liz Claiborne, Safe Horizon, CAEPV and other partners are planning activities including a CEO roundtable, a training session and a film premiere.

If you don't know what "It's Time to Talk Day" is all about, it is a day set aside to "take a moment to talk" about an issue that is really pretty hard for people to know how to address -- domestic violence. However, there are lots of ways to "talk" about it -- in terms of healthy relationships and all the areas those matter -- the home, the workplace, the community, our faith communities, our dating relationships, online, etc. By opening the door and just asking people to "take a moment to talk" we hope they can take some small steps toward educating themselves about the issue, or perhaps helping someone else.

If you are interested in learning more, visit the It’s Time to Talk Day page on our Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence ( website for the latest information.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Survey Finds Employees Under More Mental Stress Than Ever

If half-year results of a Bensinger, DuPont & Associates survey are a true indicator, then employees are under more mental stress than ever.

The Chicago-based professional services company says demand for its employee assistance programs has spiraled upward 74 percent during the first half of 2007 compared with the same period a year ago. That is an amazing increase!

This is how it broke down -- more than a third (36 percent) of the callers called to request help with mental health issues. Nineteen percent (19 percent) requested help with legal issues, while 18 percent needed assistance to resolve problems with family and personal relationships.

Now -- here is my question: How many of those calls do you suppose were in some way related to domestic violence? Most obvious would be the 18 percent needing assistance to resolve problems with family and personal issues, but you also have to consider that those calling for assistance with mental health issues like depression could also be dealing with abusive relationships. In addition, it would not be far-fetched to think that those requesting legal help could be doing so to get out of an unsafe relationship.

I say all of this because I am curious how those numbers would have broken out if the employee assistance programs (EAPs) were measuring them that way. As EAPs begin to realize the impact that domestic violence has on employees' worklife and on presenting problems such as those highlighted in this survey, I wonder if we will see it highlighted as an issue in the future.

After all, you don't get the answer to a question you don't ask, do you?

Friday, July 13, 2007

American Domestic Violence Crisis Line Is Finalist For "A Better World" National Award

I am so excited that one of our CAEPV members -- the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line -- was the regional winner of the “A Better World Awards Program” competition in April and received $5,000.00.

Now, they are in the running to receive $100,000.00! They are competing with 20 other charities – and the charity that receives the most votes between July 9th and August 9th will receive the $100,000.00.

They are a really cool organization -- they help Americans who are victims of domestic violence and living overseas by assisting them in returning safely to the US. It was started by a woman named Paula Lucas on a shoestring budget. Paula has a passion for this issue because she has been there herself.

Paula and her children lived in the Middle East, where they suffered horrible abuse by her former husband. Paula successfully escaped with her children and returned to the U.S. Had her husband or his family caught her, she would have been imprisoned and would have never seen her children again. Having to fight in the U.S. to retain legal custody of her own children, Paula learned that no programs existed to assist American citizens wishing to repatriate, particularly women leaving abusive marriages overseas. That is why she started the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line.

If you think it is worth your time, you can vote for the American Domestic Violence Crisis LIne each day between now and August 9th and help them create a better world for battered American women and children around the world. All of these families originate from a state in the USA, so your vote, and the votes of your friends, co-workers and family, can really count to bring these families back home to safety.

To vote, register on line at

Friday, July 06, 2007

Florida Enacts Domestic Violence Leave Act

A domestic violence leave act that went into effect in Florida on July 1, 2007 requires employers with fifty (50) or more employees to provide up to three days' leave for a variety of activities connected with domestic violence issues. Employees who have worked for employers for three (3) months or longer are eligible. Whether leave is paid or unpaid has been left to the discretion of the employer.

The law covers leave for specific activities such as:
  • Seeking an injunction for protection against domestic violence or repeat violence, or sexual violence
  • Obtaining medical care or mental health counseling or both for the employee or a family or household member to address injuries resulting from domestic violence
  • Obtaining services from victims services organizations such as a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center
  • Making the employee's home secure from the perpetrator of domestic violence or finding a new home to escape the perpetrator
  • Seeking legal assistance to address issues arising from domestic violence or attending or preparing for court related proceedings arising from the act of domestic violence.

Under the law, employees are required to provide "appropriate advance notice" of the need for leave, unless prevented from doing so because of imminent danger to the health or safety of the employee or a family member. The amount of notice required is determined by company policy.

Employees must exhaust any available annual vacation or personal leave and sick leave, if applicable, unless the employer waives this requirement. Employers must keep confidential all information relating to leave for domestic violence.

Employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining, and denying the exercise or attempt to exercise the rights provided by this law. Additionally, employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for exercising his or her rights. A person claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of the law may file a lawsuit in state circuit court seeking damages (monetary relief such as loss wages and benefits) or equitable relief (such as reinstatement) or both. To read the legislation, visit

As I indicated in my last post, more and more states are passing such legislation, and so far, most employers have not indicated that allowing such leave is burdensome. The leave varies greatly from state to state, so an employee should not make an assumption that just because a law was passed in Florida under certain parameters or recently in Oregon under others that the law would be similar in his or her state, or that his or her state would have such a law at all.

As for employers, it is a very good idea to check and see if any such laws have been passed in your state - you may be surprised. If not, you may want to consider providing flexible leave policies anyway if you do not already do so. What do I mean by this? I mean allowing employees to take PTO (paid time off) for whatever reason is needed without having to designate the time as vacation or sick leave. This allows flexibility for all employees -- not just victims of domestic violence -- in how they use their leave benefits. It also allows you to be "ahead of the curve" should your state pass legislation allowing such leave.

Above all, by providing flexible leave, you have provided not only for the safety of that particular employee, but potentially your entire workforce. It is something to consider.