Labor: Wisconsin shootings remind employers to address domestic violence in the workplace

Workplace situations involving domestic violence are fact-intensive and the liability an employer faces will likely be complex

Oct. 21, 2012 was a dark day in Wisconsinas Radcliffe Haughton fatally attacked his wife, Zina Haughton, at her place of employment nearMilwaukee. Along with killing his wife, Radcliffe murdered or injured six other individuals at Azana Salon & Spa in what authorities described was domestic violence. All this occurred despite the fact that Zina Haughton obtained a four-year restraining order from her husband just days earlier and after he slashed her car tires while she worked at Azana. The Oct. 21 Brookfield shootings confirm what domestic violence professionals have long known—domestic violence is rarely isolated to the home.

These unfortunate circumstances make clear that employers should be prepared to address domestic violence that is apparent in the workplace. This can occur in a variety of situations, including when two employees who work with each other are in a relationship, an employee is a victim of domestic violence, or an employee is an abuser and brings the harm to a third-party while working. In some circumstances, an employer’s primary concern may be ensuring it complies with the law and does not face liability through a charge of discrimination. However, in many circumstances, the employer’s primary concern may be ensuring the safety of employees.

Contributing Author

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Mark Spognardi

Mark Spognardi is a partner at Arnstein & Lehr. He focuses on representing management in traditional and non-traditional labor and employment law matters, including counseling,...

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Contributing Author

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Jesse Dill

Jesse R. Dill is an associate in the Milwaukee office of Arnstein & Lehr. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group....

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