#Nextchat: Domestic Violence and the Workplace


On February 15, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his fiancée Janay Palmer in the face so hard that it knocked her out cold. It was recorded on a hotel surveillance video, and by now we’ve all seen it.

The NFL’s handling of the incident has prompted a torrent of questions and debate about how domestic violence should be handled by employers, regardless of size or prominence. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey “The Workplace Impact of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Stalking” reports that only 35 percent of organizations have a formal workplace policy regarding domestic violence, and a mere one-third (36 percent) have formal training programs in place.

Even when an organization has a policy or training program to address the issue, domestic violence is not something that an employer will normally track outside of the workplace. In the Washington Post article, “What if Ray Rice Worked in an Average Company?” SHRM special expertise panel member Margaret Spence says that "Nobody’s really running out to run post-employment background checks. What I see most often is the employer finding out about the domestic violence way after it's occurred."

Even when the employer does learn of a domestic violence issue with one of its employees, it must take great care to investigate how the problem is impacting its workplace. If it’s not, and the offender is fired, it could lead to a wrongful termination suit.   

How do you handle domestic violence issues in your workplace?  If you were a high-profile employer, like the NFL, and had a Ray Rice type of incident that went public, would you make the same call?

Please join @weknownext at 3 p.m. ET on September 24 for #Nextchat with special guest Margaret Spence @MargaretSpence. We’ll chat about how domestic violence affects the workplace and steps employers can take when it comes to addressing it.

Q1.  If you were the commissioner of the NFL, what would you have done once the Ray Rice video went public? 

Q2.  Do you think high-profile and/or high-performance employees get a pass when it comes to issues like domestic violence?

Q3.  In what ways can domestic violence affect a business or organization?

Q4.  Is domestic violence a personal issue and should employers stay out of it? Why or why not?

Q5.  When does an employer need to get involved in a domestic violence issue with one of its employees?

Q6.  What steps can an employer take to investigate if/how the domestic violence offender’s actions are affecting the workplace?

Q7.  What should an employer’s domestic violence policy look like? What should be included?

Q8.  What can organizations do to address the problem of domestic violence?  

What's a Twitter Chat?


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