The Facts on Gender-Based Workplace Violence

Domestic and sexual violence (including sexual harassment) and stalking are considered workplace violence when it occurs at or impacts a workplace.

The Facts on Gender-Based Workplace Violence

  • A customer threatens to assault a retail clerk.
  • An employee’s ex-boyfriend incessantly calls and visits the employee during shifts.
  • An employee is terminated and returns to a worksite with a gun.
  • A restaurant patron fondles a server, commenting “I left you a little something extra for that.”
  • A patient strikes a nurse with a bedside lamp.
  • Upon receiving divorce papers, a man shows up to his wife’s office and kills her and several of her co-workers.

These are just a few examples of the wide array of acts that fall within the definition of workplace violence: any violent act or threat of violence directed towards a person at work or on duty. Workplace violence can range from threatening language to homicide, and can be perpetrated by co-workers, supervisors, customers, clients, patients, intimate partners, and any other person who commits or threatens to commit a violent act at a workplace.

Approximately 24% of workplace violence is related to personal relationships, which involve situations where an individual gains access to a workplace and commits a crime targeting an employee or customer who is a current or former intimate partner.

Examples include:

  • An employee who harasses, threatens, or stalks another employee with whom he or she had a prior intimate relationship.
  • A survivor of domestic violence has fled her abusive relationship and is now being followed by her abuser at work.
  • A supervisor sexually assaults an employee in an isolated part of a factory or farm.

The Impacts of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Stalking on Workplaces


Domestic Violence

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, four to five women on average are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each day in the United States. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year.

Domestic violence can follow victims to work, spilling over into the workplace when a victim is harassed, receives threatening phone calls, is absent because of injuries or is less productive due to extreme stress. Domestic violence is a serious, recognizable and preventable problem, similar to other workplace health and safety issues that affect businesses and their bottom lines.

Prevalence
  • Women are much more likely than men to be victims of on-the-job intimate partner homicide. Spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends and ex-boyfriends/ex-girlfriends were responsible for the on-the-job deaths of 321 women and 38 men from 1997-2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner, according to an Annals of Epidemiology publication.
  • According to a 2006 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in four large private industry establishments (with more than 1,000 employees) reported at least one incidence of domestic violence, including threats and assaults, in the past year.
  • A 2005 phone survey of 1,200 full-time American employees found that 44 percent of full-time employed adults personally experienced domestic violence’s effect in their workplaces, and 21 percent identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence.
Toll on Productivity
  • A 2005 study using data from a national telephone survey of 8,000 women about their experiences with violence found that women experiencing physical intimate partner violence victimization reported an average of 7.2 days of work-related lost productivity and 33.9 days in productivity losses associated with household chores, child care, school, volunteer activities, and social/recreational activities.
  • A 2005 study of female employees in Maine who experienced domestic violence found that: 98 percent had difficulty concentrating on work tasks; 96 percent reported that domestic abuse affected their ability to perform their job duties; 87 percent received harassing phone calls at work; 78 percent reported being late to work because of abuse; and 60 percent lost their jobs due to domestic abuse.
  • In a 2005 telephone survey from the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, 64 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as victims of domestic violence indicated that their ability to work was affected by the violence. More than half of domestic violence victims (57 percent) said they were distracted, almost half (45 percent) feared getting discovered, and two in five were afraid of their intimate partner’s unexpected visit (either by phone or in person).
Costs
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking totaled $5.8 billion each year for direct medical and mental health care services and lost productivity from paid work and household chores.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is $727.8 million (in 1995 dollars), with more than 7.9 million paid workdays – the equivalent of more than 32,000 full time jobs – lost each year.
  • The Tennessee Economic Council on Women estimates that domestic violence costs Tennessee approximately $174 million per year. This 2006 report considers costs in lost wages, productivity, sick leave, absenteeism and costs to the medical, legal and social services systems.
Employer’s Perspectives
  • Nearly two in three corporate executives (63 percent) surveyed by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence say that domestic violence is a major problem in our society and more than half (55 percent) cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies, but only 13 percent of corporate executives think their companies should address domestic violence.
  • Nine in ten employees (91 percent) surveyed by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence say that domestic violence has a negative impact on their company’s bottom line. Just 43 percent of corporate executives agree. Seven in ten corporate executives (71 percent) do not perceive domestic violence as a major issue at their company.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70 percent of United States workplaces do not have a formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence. Programs or policies related to workplace violence are more prevalent among larger private establishments or governments.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is one of the most underreported crimes in our society, with fewer than one in six women reporting sexual violence to the police according to the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women. The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that rape and sexual assault were reported to police at the lowest percentage (24%) when compared to other violence crimes in the workplace.

Prevalence
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male.
  • If statistics include forcible rape, incapacitated rape and drug-alcohol facilitated rape, the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women estimates that over one million women in the U.S. have had a rape experience within the past year.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime while 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime.
  • The National Institute of Justice reported that in 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance; for male victims, more than half (52.4%) reported being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger.
Costs
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 36% of rape/sexual assault victims in 2000 lost more than 10 days of work after their victimization.
  • According to the National Institute of Justice, rape costs our country more than any other crime, followed by assault ($93 billion); murder ($71 billion); and drunk driving, including fatalities ($61 billion).
  • The National Institute of Justice estimates that employers pay almost $5 billion annually for traditional crimes of violence, including rape, assault, and murder. This estimate excludes costs related to sick leave and disability insurance costs.

Stalking

Stalking is the most prevalent form of abuse at work. It poses risks to the physical safety of victims, co-workers, and customers/clients, can lead to property damage, and can negatively affect productivity and morale. In addition, employers could be held liable if an employee uses work time and resources to engage in stalking.

Prevalence
  • A startling number of men and women in the United States have been victims of stalking. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 women (16.2%) and 1 in 19 men (5.2%) have been victims of stalking.
  • In a University of Arkansas study, over 51% of stalking victims indicated that it had occurred at least once on work premises.
  • Thirty five percent of the Vermont domestic violence perpetrators surveyed had contacted their partners in an abusive manner during the workday and used work resources to do so, including work phones, work vehicles, work computers, internet or email.
  • A 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that 6.6 million people were victims of stalking in a one-year period.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are nearly 3 times more likely than men to experience stalking victimization.
  • Although the vast majority of victims know their stalkers, stalking can occur between people who know each other, such as between a worker and an intimate (or former) partner or acquaintance, co-workers, customers/clients or it can also occur between strangers according to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.
  • Intimate partner stalkers pose violent risks to their victims, according to The RECON Typology of Stalking report.
  • Two thirds of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method, according to The RECON Typology of Stalking report.
  • Seventy-eight percent of stalkers use more than one means of approach, according to The RECON Typology of Stalking report.
  • Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 case, according to The RECON Typology of Stalking report.
Costs
  • Employees may feel more fearful and less able to concentrate on work due to a threat, even if not acted upon, according to National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.
  • According to National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, one in 8 employed stalking victims lost some time from work for a variety of reasons including fear or concern for safety and getting a protective order.
  • According to National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, the amount of time lost from work ranged from less than 5 days to over 25 days or more.
  • According to National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, 58% of victims lost income that was not covered by unemployment insurance, paid leave, or some other source.
  • About 5% of employed victims reported that they had been fired from or asked to leave their jobs because of the stalking, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.