Q. A young employee comes to work often with visible bruises. Last week she had a black eye. She always has a ready excuse. Her husband calls her frequently, sometimes 10 times a day. Several staff have come to me voicing concern that she may be getting abused. Her accuracy level is decreasing and she’s starting to miss work more often. Can I legally approach her and offer resources for battered women? — Jeanne, Florida
A. Yes, you certainly can offer her those resources. But be careful; she may be offended and react negatively, which would create tension in the workplace. I’d suggest, instead, that you make the opportunity to speak with her about the behavior and performance issues. Then suggest more generally that if she thinks that anything outside the office is contributing to her performance issues at work, she should consider making use of employee assistance resources that may be available to her through your company or the community.
Regarding her performance, if receiving 10 or more personal calls a day is something you’d counsel any employee about, you could ask her to limit her personal calls to emergencies or while on breaks. You can address the drop in her accuracy level and attendance just as you would with anyone whose performance has started to decline.
Of course, it is tough to think she may be abused and harder still to think she may lose her position because of it. But dealing with the decline in attendance and performance now will help her realize she should take action to ensure she is able to perform well at her job.
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