How to Address Domestic Violence As a Restaurant Owner

Charlette Beasley

Charlette is a writer and content strategist in Florida. She writes payroll content for Fit Small Business and helps her own clients create industry-specific copy for their business. In addition, she loves “beaching” with her two kids.

Owning a restaurant usually involves doing inventory counts, hiring new waitstaff and cooks, managing payroll, and so on. Domestic violence prevention isn’t typically at the top of that list (or on the list at all, in many cases); however, it should be. Six years ago, a hospital in Maryland experienced the deaths of two employees caused by domestic violence that spilled over into the workplace, and since then, many more businesses have had similar experiences on their premises.

Many restaurant owners are now actively taking steps to protect their employees from domestic abuse, both inside the workplace and outside. 

Restaurant owner speaking to her employees outlining their domestic violence policy to promote staff and customer safety

Establish a Domestic Abuse Prevention Policy

The first step to preventing domestic violence in your restaurant is to establish a policy to help prevent it. The policy should clearly define what domestic abuse is, which can include both physical and emotional abuse. Also, consider giving a few days off (can be paid or unpaid) for related events like court appearances, mental health checks, etc.

In addition, your policy should address the following:

  • Other resources employees can access
  • Security concerns and possible resolutions
  • Handling restraining order violations

There are many components of domestic violence that you can address in your policy. Just remember that the purpose is to ensure your workplace is safe for all employees and to show your support for their well-being.

Train Your Restaurant Managers on Domestic Violence

Even with a policy in place, restaurant managers won’t always instinctively know how to handle certain situations when they happen. For example, if the sous chef’s spouse enters the building with a gun and asks where their partner is, what should your manager do? 

Managers, and all employees for that matter, need in-person training on how to handle these worst-case scenarios. A good training program will equip your employees with the strategies they need to handle not only the perpetrator but also the victim.

Sometimes, domestic violence in the workplace can be prevented. If your employees know the signs of domestic abuse, they can assist their coworkers with getting help before the situation becomes dire. Perhaps the victim needs to move to a shelter or help to get a restraining order.

Once an employee has been identified as a victim of domestic violence, they can begin to get help. If your manager knows the employee is avoiding the abuser, he or she can change the employee’s work schedule or move them to a different location.

Resources For Victims of Domestic Violence

Be sure to outline a protocol for managers to follow when they suspect an employee is being abused at home. Should they approach the employee or refer them to a professional? 

You could also partner with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that will provide employees with free assessments, counseling, and other related services during their time of need. Sometimes, people just need help determining the steps they need to take to get out of a bad situation.

For additional resources to help put an end to domestic abuse, please check out Workplaces Respond, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, and RAINN.

There are other ways to show your support for victims of domestic abuse:

Real Restaurants Supporting Domestic Violence Prevention

Just a few months ago, more than 50 restaurants in Chicago took a stand against domestic violence. They devoted one night to reserving a portion of their sales for donation to the city’s oldest domestic violence shelter, Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC). An act as simple as this goes a long way to show employees and the world that your restaurant stands up for what’s right.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that domestic violence resulted in a $1.8 billion loss in productivity for employers. With the right attitude and values, restaurant owners can help cut these losses. Before that can happen though, employers must be willing to see domestic violence as a workplace problem.

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