I work for a small company in rural Alaska. We live on site and a distance from the nearest community. Although more than twenty of us work here in the summer, only three of us stay here in the winter. My two coworkers are a couple.
Yesterday after dinner, I overheard “Jane” sobbing. When I asked her if she was okay, she said, “Mike just beat the shit out of me.” She looked horrible. I asked her if this had happened before and she said “yes.” But she told me I wasn’t to say anything, and then headed back to the room that Mike and she share. I begged her not to put herself at risk, but she told me I didn’t understand and that she could handle it.
This morning at breakfast Mike confronted me and told me to say out of his personal business. After that, I managed to get alone with Jane. She also told me I had to let everything go, said everything was her fault, that she’d provoked Mike and shouldn’t have. She said he was a good guy; he just had a bad temper.
Do I tell my employer or is it Jane and Mike’s personal business?
It may be their personal business, but it’s your workplace. Yes, you should call, for both your and Jane’s sake. He’s threatened you and hurt her. Your employer has a duty to maintain a safe work environment for you. Your employer can’t, unless you explain what’s going on.
When you call, make sure you won’t be overheard, or this situation could escalate quickly. Also, while you may not be able to get Jane to accept help, you need to try. That starts with getting you both off-site and away from Mike. She urgently needs to talk to a counselor experienced in domestic violence.
c) 2020 (revised from 2016) Lynne Curry; Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her @ www.communicationworks.net or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.