Abusive Rumour

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rumor of an employee abusing his wife and children:

There is a rumour going around work that a subordinate of mine may be beating his wife and children. My company is quite involved in the community activities. The company actually encourages community involvement in all of its employees. One of the managers of the company has asked me to investigate the situation and make recommendations to upper management. I am wondering what should be done if the rumours end up being true? Also, how involved should the company get in a matter like this if the workers personal life is not effecting their work?

Signed, Assigned To Investigate

Dear Assigned To Investigate:

Before replying, might you send more details: What is the kind of work of your workplace? In what ways is your company active in the community? How many are employed in your local plant and are your company’s plants also located elsewhere? What does your policy book say about privacy? How long have you been a superior of this individual and how would you evaluate his character if you did not hear a rumor? Follow UP: WE did not get a reply to the questions posed, and therefore, possibly your rumor question is more of an academic assignment than a real workplace problem.

Nevertheless, one of our trusted guest respondents, Gerald Allen, sends the following advice: I have limited experience concerning the abuse topic of which you have questions. A company probably has no role in becoming involved with “rumors” of alleged child/spouse abuse unless they see first hand some evidence of possible wrong doing.

It is my understanding that physicians and other health care workers, teachers, child care providers, etc. are required to report to the proper authorities, if they see evidences that could be abuse. At this point, the only suggestions that I could offer is that you share confidentially, the information that you have “heard” to the proper law enforcement personnel, emphasizing that to you knowledge, it is only a rumor. Then they can be aware and response as/when needed. To “falsely” accuse someone of wrong doings, is also a very serious matter. Tread lightly. But keep your eyes and ears finely tuned. Best of luck.

Gerald Allen