Employers Learn To Tackle Domestic Violence In The Workplace

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(Memphis) April 10th of this year, estranged husband Thomas Rowberry opened fire on his wife as she arrived to work, shooting her to death, then killing himself, all in front of fellow employees.

"We've got a lot of associates that are very upset obviously," said a ServiceMaster official on the scene of the shooting at the time.

It's the type of tragedy that brought more than 20 companies and agencies to a Memphis Area Women's Council Workshop Thursday morning to learn what companies can and must do to support victims and keep all workers safe.

"We have an employee hotline called my safe workplace," says Linda Bacon of First Tennessee Bank.
From planing escape routes, securing evidence and serving as witnesses, there is plenty for companies to do.

ServiceMaster officials told how they turned their workplace tragedy into a plan of action.

"Securing our location, exterior doors as well as tightening up on processes with visitors coming in," says Linda Carter with ServiceMaster.

This first of its kind free session focused on 'Violence at Home. Victims at Work' and targeted small and large businesses.

It stressed that employers  recognize when their workers are struggling and have a compassionate response, realizing there is cost for not taking action.

"The estimates are in the billions and I said billions in terms of productivity, also health care costs," says Carol Danehower of the University of Memphis. She is working on a study of workplace violence.

There is also the Public Relations and customer cost when a business is tagged as a location of violence.

There can be liability if the employer knew of a problem and took no action.

So there are a lot of things for businesses to consider when it comes to safety.

Now the plan is to spread the message even further so more places of business will take action.