Workshop examines violence on the job
Jan. 25, 2002
Elaine Wu
Staff Writer




Domestic violence can often lead to violence in the workplace when employees' intimate partners stalk them at work, said Prince George's County Sheriff Alonzo Black during a business meeting.

Black and Robin Warren from Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence led a workshop on "Violence in the Workplace" in Bowie Tuesday. The Prince George's County Board of Trade and Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce were hosts for the event.

"We feel it's ideal to get out and educate those employers and employees," Black said. "Domestic violence is generally the beginning of violence in the workplace."

Black said the Bureau of Justice statistics show that there were 1.7 million cases of violence in the workplace filed in the United States in 1993. That number dropped by 44 percent in 1999, but it is still an issue not to be overlooked, Black said.

"We think people have been more concerned after Sept. 11," said Liz Casto, executive director of the board of trade, an association of small business owners in the county. "We thought it was a good time to go into it."

Casto said in the past few weeks alone, she heard two of her organization's members experiencing violence in the workplace in some form.

More than 85 percent of people experiencing domestic violence are females, Warren said. When they are victims of such violence, they often show lower performance at work with lateness, absences and phone calls at work from their intimate partners, Warren said. That could lead to violence at work because the abuser sometimes would follow the victims to work and stalk them.

Sgt. Bill Ament, a public information officer at the Sheriff's Office, said Maryland put into state law two years ago a way for people to file a restraining order against those not related to them. Peace orders are civil orders that require a neighbor, co-worker, stranger or anyone to stay away and refrain from contact of the person filing the order for up to six months. If the abusers violate the order, it will become a criminal offense and they will be arrested.

Those experiencing domestic violence can use protective orders to keep their current or former spouse, cohabitant and anyone related by blood, marriage or adoption away from them.

The state issues 7,000 peace and protective orders annually in Prince George's County, Ament said. That's a quarter of the state's total.

For more information or pamphlets on peace orders, call Ament at 301-952-4479. Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, based in Bowie, provides training and education workshops on domestic violence. Call 301-352-4574 or go to www.mnadv.org.

E-mail Elaine Wu at ewu@gazette.net.