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Domestic violence is pernicious, even in the workplace

Company principals in all California industries are daily focused on multiple opportunities and challenges across every conceivable work-related sphere.

Here's an elevated concern: workplace-linked domestic violence.

That subject matter is virtually guaranteed to make any business owner or manager wince. Employee violence -- both its commission and its sad effects visited upon a victim -- is obviously an explosive and ultra-sensitive topic. A head-in-the-sand approach is at least understandable from the perspective of a business manager who would much rather focus on company upsides and profit margins.

Yet it is clearly inadvisable. Domestic abuse occurring on the home front routinely makes its troubled way to worksites across the country. Angry and volatile workers can be prime catalysts spurring further violence inside a company. And victims can be gravely endangered and also spell material liability concerns for an employer adjudged negligent or dismissive of signs reasonably indicating abuse.

The bottom line concerning domestic violence that enters the workplace in any form is that an employer reasonably on notice of it should heed relevant signals and proactively respond in a responsible way.

Where that concerns a suspected perpetrator, that can mean initiating a formal company investigation through human resources. Things obviously need to be well documented and on the record for that, which can make a timely consultation with proven employment law attorneys a valuable exercise.

The same goes in any formal company interaction with a suspected or actual violence victim. A recent media spotlight on domestic abuse allegations spilling into the workplace notes the duty of employers to "make sure they are aware of any applicable statutes" (as well as other local and/or state laws) when they consider how to communicate with such individuals.

Domestic violence is criminal behavior. Employers need to purposefully deal with it.

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