Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Misconduct? I Don't Think So

I live in a state where our last governor was just convicted on 17 of 20 counts of various crimes.  Our governor previous to him is currently in prison for similar crimes.

But this item from our neighbors to the north caught my eye - it is regarding the Wisconsin Supreme Court and justices allegedly slapping and choking one another- you can read it here

While I somehow cannot imagine Supreme Court Justices getting physical with one another - I know from doing this job, abuse and violence can happen to anyone...and anyone can be an offender.

What particularly caught my attention was that "the matter was called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges."

While that may certainly be the role of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission to investigate allegations of "judicial misconduct"....if what is alleged is true, something else is going on here.

It is workplace violence.

It actually "Type 3" Workplace Violence - where the perpetrator(s) are co-workers.

Did you know that according to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report regarding workplace violence* about a quarter (26%) of workplace violence against males and about a third against females were committed by someone with whom the victim had a work relationship? Among the work relationships examined, coworkers were the most likely to attack persons in the workplace. Current or former coworkers committed 16% of workplace violence against males and about 14% against females.

When the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) works with employers, one of the first steps in the process is helping them create a policy regarding workplace violence. A policy that makes it clear that no one - employees, managers, vendors, etc - can use workplace time and resources to threaten, abuse or harm anyone.

(I wonder if the Wisconsin State Supreme Court has such a policy? If not, we'd be happy to provide them some samples.)

It should not matter who you are, or what you do - if these people acted this way on the street, or in another place of business, they certainly could have been arrested.

For help with workplace violence policy samples or any other resources, please visit our website at www.caepv.org.

(Update: Apparently we are not the only people who recognize this as workplace violence.  Read this article from the Wisconsin State Journal.)

*March 2011, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report,Workplace Violence 1999- 2009, NCJ 233231

Monday, June 20, 2011

"If I Don't Come to Work, Call the Police. He Said He's Going to Kill Me."

"If I don't come to work, call the police. He's said he's going to kill me."

That's what Trisha Sadler told her co-workers at the bank where she worked.  And sadly, on June 17, that is what they had to do. They had to call the police because they had not seen her for two days.

You can read the heartbreaking story here.

Now those co-workers have lost a friend, and her family has lost a daughter and sister, and we've lost another precious person to domestic violence.

According to an arrest affidavit, friends said Trisha would come to work at  the bank with bruises. She confided to them that Ward threw her around and choked her, according to the arrest affidavit, and they were fighting more and more. Neighbors called police when the shouting got too loud.

Two weeks before her death, Sadler gave her co-worker a warning: If I don't come to work, call the police. He's said he's going to kill me, the affidavit said.

If you are a person who does not think the workplace is impacted by the "private issue" of domestic violence, perhaps the life of Trisha Sadler and those who love her and worked with her and were here family and now have to live without her will make you think again.

If you are wondering what an employer can do to address domestic violence through the workplace, please visit our website at www.caepv.org

While there is no guarantee that a workplace program to address domestic violence will keep a tragedy like the one that happened to Ms. Sadler from occurring, it is our hope that such programs will change - and perhaps save - some lives. 

And isn't it worth that?

June Is Internet Safety Month - Tools for Parents

June is Internet Safety Month - and CAEPV Member Verizon has some great resources for parents. 

Verizon teamed up with leading online safety experts to bring parents and anyone who cares about the kids in their lives a series of videos and blogs about cyberbullying.

In this video,
“Is your child being cyberbullied?,” experts highlight practical steps to take if you discover that your child is being cyberbullied or harassed. 

Here are some key take-aways: 
  • Report the abuse to the website that it occurred on by using the “Report Abuse” button or by sending an email.
  • Save and print evidence of the bullying.
  • Be careful about cutting off your child’s access to technology. You don’t want to make them feel like they are being punished for telling you about the problem.
  • Think before you immediately contact the bully’s parents, as you might complicate the situation for you and your child.
  • Contact the school to find out how they can help. Even if they can’t intervene in the cyber bullying scenario, they can help by supporting your child when he or she is on campus..
  • Encourage your child to “Take a break” from the online interaction rather than retaliating immediately.

This video, “When does 'rude' cross the line, online?” highlights some of the legal aspects of cyber bullying, and potential ramifications when behavior online goes too far. Watch the video below to learn more.

Here are some key take-aways:

• Willful and repeated harm or a one-time violent threat constitutes cyber bullying.
• The consequences of posting or forwarding nude or semi-nude photos may include a child pornography charge.
• Police suggest the best course of action if a child receives one of these photos is to delete it immediately and tell an adult.
• Adults need to set expectations and social rules for when it’s okay to record, post or tag photos and videos online.

For more resources, visit "
Articles for Parents" on the Verizon site.

Remember - it doesn't have to be June to care about internet safety for your kids - or for yourself.  This is a great resource anytime. 

And as with any conversations about healthy versus unhealthy relationships that take place with your children, the best conversations about internet safety start when they are young, and take place often.

Keep those lines of communication open.  Especially the old-fashioned kinds of communication.  You know....talking. :-)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

You Don't Want to Be A Headline....At Least Not Like This

If you are a business, you want to be in the headlines for a good reason...a great reason. 

You don't want to be in the headlines like this:  Pfizer Sued Over Domestic Violence Leave.

You can read the story linked above - but the case is basically this:  a victim of domestic violence in Washington State is saying her employer did not follow the law - or even inform her of the law (as required in her state) regarding her situation.

And this is a big employer - that should know the law. And the story itself it just heartbreaking and frightening. 

I don't know the details, I don't know exactly what happened - I only know what I am reading in the story.

I also know this - any employer with a clear understanding of the laws of the state, and a clear policy and program to address domestic violence, and the workplace culture that trains managers to understand how to address it would probably not be in this position.

When employers join the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) we work with them on the policies, programs and infrastructure to help with creating a workplace culture where 1) employees feel safe coming forward and 2) managers know the right thing to do.

It would appear - if this case is exactly as it is written - that the manager did not know the right thing to do. 

That is so sad for so many reasons....not only because the victim did not feel safe, but because the entire workplace was compromised.  And now there is a lawsuit.

I know that often legal counsel will indicate their concern that if "too many things are written down" they may be liable for what they write..or what they do to help a victim of domestic violence.  But as the general counsel for one of our CAEPV member companies says "Not only is it the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.  I've never seen anyone get sued for a good faith effort to protect victims of domestic violence and a good faith effort to keep them and their workplaces safe.  But I have seen employers sued for doing nothing, or something negligent."

And I have to say I agree.  I am not a lawyer, but I do follow these things pretty closely, and while I have seen a LOT of lawsuits like the one above...I've never seen anyone sued who was trying to help victims of domestic violence at the workplace through a good policy and program.

So - don't be a headline.  Have enlightened self-interest. 

A great place to start is with the steps we recommend which you can find right here.   You can also visit our website at www.caepv.org.

And if you join us, you can be a headline for a great reason -- making domestic violence "Everybody's Business."

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Domestic violence does spill into the workplace, right?

That’s what the gentleman was asking.  I assumed by his tone, he was asking on behalf of an employee who had been wrongly dismissed.

I was wrong.

He was asking on behalf of an employer who had dismissed an employee after the victim of abuse had not “fulfilled a personal safety plan” in the manner the employer asked. So the victim was fired.  He indicated they thought they had a pretty good case for dismissing the employee.

I asked “Does the employer have a workplace violence policy or procedures that were followed?”

I don’t know.

I asked “What did the employer do to keep the employee safe?  What would the employer have done if it was a customer bothering the employee?  Or what if had been a co-worker threatening the employee?”

I don’t know.

“What was involved in this personal safety plan the employee was supposed to create and follow?”

I don’t know.

“Was the employer listed on an order of protection?”

I don’t know.

“Was the employee provided community resources to help with this safety planning?”

I don’t know.

“So the victim was just supposed to be personally responsible for being safe at work when there was a known potential for workplace violence?”

I don’t know.

I told him that if the employer had been located in a different state or municipality, firing this employee because of the domestic violence situation would have been potentially illegal.   

I also explained that while it might seem expedient, it was not in the employer’s enlightened self-interest to simply “remove the target.”

This was not going to keep the rest of the workforce safe in the long run. What would happen in the abuser showed up and didn’t believe that the former employee no longer worked there?

The employer did not seem to have a plan for handling workplace violence in general.  I explained that in the case of this kind of workplace violence (domestic violence impacting the workplace) the employer had created a situation where it was likely no one else who was dealing with domestic violence was going to come forward to share their situation -- especially if they had an abuser threatening to come to the workplace.  Wouldn’t they be afraid to share that based on what happened to this employee? (Not to mention the fact that the employer was no more prepared to deal with domestic violence impacting the workplace now than they were before this employee was dismissed.)

I explained it made more sense to have a policy and plan for dealing with domestic violence from the employer perspective BECAUSE it impacts the workplace.  To plan from the employer perspective to keep employees safe. Rather than expecting that from the employee.   Not just for domestic violence impacting the workplace…but any kind of workplace violence.   

He asked if the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) helps employers develop policies and programs to address domestic violence as a workplace issue. I said that is exactly what we do – and we know how to help employers keep their employees and workplaces safe and productive.

He was a really nice guy.  He really didn’t know that there were better ways to handle domestic violence as a workplace issue.  He didn’t realize that other employers have found better ways to do it.  And I think he really understood that perhaps the employer had not done the best thing. For anyone.

I think he understood what I was saying.  

But I don’t know.