Absolutely it does! First of all, your workplace violence policy should directly address the requirement to report domestic abuse. It should give clear reasons why and perhaps list examples of cases where domestic violence exploded in the workplace. Did you know that 74% of the reported cases of domestic abuse also reported that some of the abuse actually took place in the victim’s work area? Consider that even if an abused spouse or partner secures a restraining order for the home, or if the victim actually moves; where is the next most predictable place to find that victim?
It used to be that companies did not want to get involved with domestic abuse experienced by one of their employees. There was a ‘check your personal problems at the door’ attitude. That demeanor now is unacceptable and flat out dangerous. The violent spouse or partner in a fit of rage seeking the victim at their workplace does not always confine the violence to just the victim. The company or organization has a morale and legal responsibility to be aware of such abusive activity and foresee that it could enter the workplace and become everyone’s problem. The courts will certainly look at it that way.
Turning a blind eye, if the abuse is unreported, is not a defense. If the victim’s co-workers are aware of the abuse, then the organization needs to be aware of it. Therefore, your policy needs to make all of your employees aware of their responsibility to report such a situation for discrete investigation. Besides doing the right thing to help the victim employee, your knowledge of the abuse and subsequent actions taken to protect that individual, will become part of your defense. Options might include counseling or other Employee Assistance Program (EAP) intervention, relocation within the office to a new work space, changing of schedule to avoid nighttime parking, or even relocation to another facility if that would help. Make some accommodation that will either help with the direct problem or reduce the likelihood that the problem will manifest itself at work in a violent manner. OSHA’s general duty clause maintains the expectation that the workplace be made safe from foreseeable dangers and this is one of them.
Please explore our online training courses available at www.imac-training.com for workplace violence prevention courses as well as other security disciplines.
What does workplace violence prevention have to do with customer service?
Do you have customer service personnel that work for your company? Do they occasionally have to deal with angry customers? Do they have to do it in person? If the answer to these any of these questions is yes, then the customer service personnel could absolutely benefit from workplace violence prevention training. When the topic of workplace violence is mentioned, most people think about the disgruntled or terminated employee acting out violently. True, those occurrences get all the media attention when they happen. However, the fact is that any physical altercation, intimidation, or even a threat of an altercation is considered workplace violence. That brings a responsibility for the employer.
The concept of “reasonable foreseeability” is the deciding factor when determining liability for the consequences of an act of aggression or otherwise violent incident. What conditions that lead to an act of aggression or violence could have been deemed reasonable to expect by a reasonable person? That is the question to consider because that is how your company will be judged after an incident has occurred.
Now think again about the customer service personnel that occasionally deal with angry people. Might it be reasonable to expect, or foresee the possibility, that one of them could encounter an abusive, irate customer? Might a judge one day ask whether the victimized employee had been given training on verbal de-escalation techniques for example? Were they aware of the emergency procedures for discretely summoning help in the face of such an altercation? Are there notification and emergency response procedures in place for that work area? Workplace violence policies should not only pertain to employee relations amongst each other, but they should also include relations between employees and visitors and/or customers.
Your business should consider courses in nonviolent conflict management for those customer service personnel. These courses can give them the verbal de-escalation tools that might prevent a tense situation from getting out of hand. The training will also teach them tactics which will help keep the employee safe, confident, and more able to regain control of the situation. Other measures for emergency notification and response should be defined and implemented. Furthermore, all of the employees should understand their individual part in combating what might happen in these situations and not just consider it another employee’s problem. Don’t wait for an incident to happen before you do the right thing for your team. It’s not just about liability. It is about caring enough for your employees who might be subject to this and doing what you can to protect them.
Please check out the workplace violence series courses at www.imac-training.com, specifically, “Nonviolent Confrontation Management” and “Crisis Negotiation – Dealing with Difficult People in Difficult Situations.”