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Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Violence

Union Responses: Making a Difference

Why are domestic and sexual violence and stalking union issues?

Like many other workplace health and safety issues that unions tackle for the benefit of their members, domestic and sexual violence and stalking are serious, recognizable and preventable problems.

Domestic and sexual violence and stalking affect the safety and productivity of the workplace -- which makes them a union concern. And, like many of the other workplace health and safety issues that unions tackle for the benefit of their members, violence is a serious, recognizable and preventable problem that affects a significant number of union members - both as victims and perpetrators of such violence.

  • A recent Department of Justice study found that 63% of the rapes/sexual assaults experienced by female victims were committed by non-strangers such as intimate partners, friends, and family members.1 Rape exacts the highest costs per crime victim of any criminal offense: $127 billion per year.2
  • A recent Department of Justice study reports that 85% of victims of domestic violence are female and 15% are male.3
  • One in twelve women has been stalked in her lifetime.4 The overwhelming majority of victims are women (78 percent), and the majority of offenders (87 percent) are men.5

Many employers lack an understanding of the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence and stalking and react in non-supportive or even discriminatory ways when violence becomes a workplace issue. Consider the following types of members’ needs and whether your union is prepared to respond:

  • A member went on a date with a person who now unrelentingly stalks him or her at work, and the employer terminates your member to avoid a workplace security risk.
  • A perpetrator repeatedly prevents a member from leaving the house in the morning and the member is on final warning for tardiness and absenteeism.
  • A member who works at a luxury hotel is sexually assaulted by a hotel guest.
  • Another member goes to her steward explaining that she and her ex-partner, who is also a member of the union, work together at the same facility. She has received an Order of Protection requiring that the ex-partner remain at least 500 feet away at all times.

For statistics on why domestic and sexual violence and stalking is a workplace concern, see fact sheets on Violence and the Workplace, Impact of Violence, and Costs of Sexual Violence on this website.


  1. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2008 (2009).
  2. Nat’l Institute of Justice, Extent and Costs of Crime Victimization: A New Look (1996).
  3. Callie Marie Rennison & Sarah Welchans, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence (2003).
  4. Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, Nat’l Institute of Justice, Stalking in America (1998).
  5. Id.

Partner Organizations Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Legal Momentum, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and its National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project (RSP) of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Victim Rights Law Center, and Stalking Resource Center: A Program of The National Center for Victims of Crime.

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Funding by US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women

This project was supported by Grant No. 2009-TA-AX-K028 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this site or in any materials on this site, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.