A significant number of employees are impacted by domestic violence—most frequently as victims and as relatives or friends of victims. According to recent studies and polls, 1 in 5 women in the United States is or has been involved in an abusive relationship, 44 percent of Americans say they know of someone in an abusive relationship, and 21 percent of surveyed employees report that they have been victims of domestic violence.
Daily reports of incidents of domestic violence are an unfortunate reality across our nation. Recent events in San Bernardino, California, and Cookeville, Tennessee, remind us that domestic violence issues sometimes spill over into the workplace, sometimes causing loss of life and/or serious injuries. Domestic violence is defined as violence at the hands of a current or former intimate partner or family member. It is often physical violence, but just as often, it is psychological and emotional as well. Domestic violence occurs at about the same rate across all ethnic, racial, and cultural lines, and no relationship between domestic violence and educational or economic status has been established.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one out of every six violent crimes occurs in the workplace. These crimes include assaults, rapes, robberies, and—on rare occasions—homicides. Employees, customers, and third-party individuals are increasingly acting out in ways that devastatingly alter their lives and the lives of their coworkers. These issues are particularly concerning in retail establishments as they are more accessible to the public than many other workplaces given their hours of operation and direct interaction with customers. A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that retail workers were disproportionately subjected to workplace violence. Although retail workers comprise 9 percent of the workforce in the United States, they account for 13 percent of all workplace violence incidents and an alarming 27 percent of all workplace homicides. Now, more than ever, retailers should consider implementing a comprehensive plan designed to both prevent and address violence in the workplace. A good workplace violence plan features five distinct elements.