Sorrell warns domestic violence impacts workplace

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(Host) Attorney General William Sorrell is urging all employers across the state to recognize that domestic violence has become a critical workplace issue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Sorrell says a new report concerning the incidence of domestic violence contains some sobering statistics. Seventy-four percent of all women who are victims of domestic violence say they have experienced harassment from their abusers while they’re at work. Sorrell says this is an important factor because two-thirds of all women in Vermont are part of the state’s workforce; it’s the highest rate of any state in the country.

Sorrell says the seriousness of this issue became clear to him after several his employees were harassed at work:

(Sorrell) “Just imagine if you’re in that situation how difficult it would be to concentrate on your work when someone is screaming at you either on the phone or leaving you a voice message to the effect that he’s going to kill you or he’s going to kidnap the kids or he’s going to destroy your property or whatever. It’s pretty tough to keep focused on what you’re doing for work when you’re getting those kinds of messages in the workplace.”

(Kinzel) Sorrell says his office has developed a training protocol for employers to help dispel some common myths about domestic violence:

(Sorrell) “Domestic violence is everywhere. It affects all strata of our society. We want employers to realize that if they have an employee force of any size whatsoever, that in all likelihood they have victims of domestic violence working for them. And we want them to be sensitive of the impact on the productivity of these employees, their special needs.”

(Kinzel) Sorrell says domestic violence has become a leading cause of violent death in Vermont. He notes that seven of 12 homicides that have occurred in Vermont this year are related to domestic violence.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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