Domestic Violence and Work: Legal and Business Perspectives


  • Marcy L. Karin
  • Paula Shapiro

Document type: Encyclopedia Entry

Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia

Year: 2009


  • Business Case
  • Managers/Supervisors
  • Performance
  • Public Policy
  • Women


  • Law


Domestic violence—”a substantial cause of injury to women” (BJS, 2007; CDC, 2003; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000)—significantly impacts America’s workplaces. Individuals subjected to abuse, their coworkers, other third parties (volunteers, contractors, customers, etc.), and businesses all suffer consequences as a result of domestic violence that occurs at or spills over into the workplace. As explained below, domestic violence may cause employees to be distracted at work, arrive late, leave early, or otherwise miss work to address their injuries. A large number of victims report being subject to adverse employment actions as a result of dealing with domestic violence, up to and including termination from their jobs. This is a particularly troubling fact because a steady paycheck is often the key to a victim’s economic independence and escape from abuse (Tebo, 2005). Domestic violence causes problems for employers as well. Employers experience economic loss due to lost productivity, administrative difficulties that result from employees who take unplanned time off, higher insurance premiums, and the possibility of lawsuits. Factors that could give rise to an employee claim include an employer’s termination of an employee suffering from domestic violence in an effort to maintain a safe workplace or an employer’s failure to adopt and/or enforce appropriate domestic violence prevention policies. As discussed below, employees and employers have rights, responsibilities, and resources available to them to assist in combating this problem.

Link:Domestic_Violence_and_Work encyclopedia