Nearly 2,000,000 workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more instances go unreported.
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law. www.dol.gov
Approximately 10 years ago I was working as an Interim Executive Director for a small NFP (Not for Profit) in the mid-west. There was a ‘religious’ component for the NFP; funding came from various sources and a few of the major Protestant denominations in the area donated to this organization. I had been a member of the BOT of this organization so I was very familiar with what was transpiring. Shortly after I began, I was tasked with doing an analysis of all facets of the organization and reporting on the status of such.
My report was critical albeit constructive. One area that I focused was on Personnel and a good deal of that part of the report was spent on the Interim Minister (who, along with his wife, another minister, had run this organization in years past but had been asked to leave for various reasons). I felt the report was honest and fair; a copy was given to the President of the BOT (another Minister, who happened to be good friends with the Interim Minister). She proceeded to give the Interim Minister a copy of my report, even though I was informed that the report was for the President of the BOT and BOT members, not this Interim Minister. One day, within a short period of time of the Interim Minister having read the report, he stopped me upon entrance of the building and proceeded to harass me and physically push me down the concrete steps.
Instead of going to the Police (which in hindsight, is what I should have done), I went to the then President of the BOT (a new President….third in place during my tenure of Interim Executive Director). She proceeded to ‘interview’ the Interim Minister; he stated that he did not know what she was speaking about and she called a meeting of the BOT after polling each member. She decided to support Bill Thompson, because, after all, he was/is a minister. It turns out that instead of calling a BOT meeting to discuss my allegation, she individually visited each BOT member ‘convincing’ them that they should support Bill, because, after all, he was/is a Minister….(Please see my blog ‘When Religious Leaders Fall….)
I’ve worked for two (2) other organizations where threats were made against individual employees and the threats were either ignored due to the fact that the woman performing the threatening behavior was too ‘integral’ a part of the organization and the employee being threatened needed to ‘alter’ her behavior in order to insure that there were no repercussions with the other employee. Please remember, as a Human Resources professional, I have a range of criteria to consider when I look at an employee. Many owners will override my considerations because of the financial impact to the organization or for personal/professional considerations, as the President of the NFP did in the above noted instance. It was not going to look good on her resume and she was in the process of attempting to procure a new position in another State.
Regarding personal and domestic violence against women, a woman began a hashtag #whyIstayed on Twitter and I would like to respond to that. A woman stays for many reasons and it is always complicated. I listened to Meredith Viera on TV last evening speaking of how a former partner kicked her out of their apartment ‘naked’ and she had to go hide in a stairwell until he came out two (2) hours later in tears, apologizing to her. She left ONLY when she was offered a position in another state. I was a physically and emotionally abused child, by a father whom I know loved me. He had been raised by a physically abusive mother and it turns out that I have severe ADHD. I have endured being called horrendous names in front of my only child to a punch in the face by a former partner who suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome. Yes, I left each of my abusive relationships. Each (three) relationship that I entered would eventually head in the same direction and through the harassment of the abuser, I began to believe that it was me. It turns out that I sought out these men…Comfort? Security? The ‘punch in the face and seeing stars’ did it for me. I’ve spent much needed time in therapy asking myself and the Therapist #whyIstayed. It turns out that it no longer matters. I did leave and I have scars, but don’t we all? I’m happier than I have ever been and I realized that all of my experiences make me a better person as well as a more empathetic and considerate Human Resources’ Professional. I wish I had become the person I am today without the pain that I’ve experienced but that would never have happened.
There have been 57 reported incidents of domestic violence in the past 8 years within the NFL....now that this is out in the open….Let’s keep up the momentum, support the recipients of domestic violence with love and counseling and insure that the abusers receive the same. This is not just an NFL issue; this is a violence issue.
If you are or any family member is a victim of domestic violence, please contact the police and a shelter (each County will have at least one). If you are a victim of workplace violence (emotional/harassment/physical), please inform your supervisor and/or anyone up the food chain. Employees, please inform the local police if you are a recipient of any type of physical threat. Employers, please protect your employees at all costs.