WASHINGTON, DC — Legislators today will join national experts, a noted author and domestic violence survivor, and area businesses in a conference on developing domestic violence policies for the workplace. The daylong session will offer insight on the hidden cost of domestic violence to businesses and on pending federal legislation that would mandate protection in the workplace. It will also offer working sessions and 'best practices' on developing appropriate policies.
As part of its ongoing commitment to domestic violence prevention, Verizon Wireless will join forces with Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C. to sponsor the event.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), co-sponsor of a bill to mandate workplace protection, and Northwestern University Professor Michele Weldon, a domestic violence survivor and award-winning journalist, will serve as keynote speakers.
Additional speakers will include Beverly Urban Younger, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on workplace domestic violence, and Stacy Dougan, Esq., Assistant General Counsel with Greenberg Traurig, LLP and founder of the Greenberg Traurig/Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
In a recent survey, 37 percent of women who experienced domestic violence said it had an impact on their work in the form of tardiness, missed workdays, and their ability to keep jobs or be promoted. Related healthcare costs are estimated in the hundreds of millions each year, with employers paying the bulk of the costs (Tampa Tribune, September 25, 2000). This trend has resulted in proposed federal legislation to mandate protection in the workplace, specifically the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA).
"Our legislation offers employees facing domestic violence the opportunity to take reasonable time off from work to make necessary court appearances, seek legal assistance, contact law enforcement officials or make alternative housing arrangements -- without the fear of being fired or demoted," said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. "By creating a work environment that is supportive and sensitive to the effects of domestic abuse, employees will obtain appropriate assistance and remain productive members of the company's workforce."
Verizon Wireless' commitment to fighting domestic violence began in 1995 when the company - then Bell Atlantic Mobile - introduced the HopeLineSM program, which provided women in shelters with voice mailboxes for communicating with counselors, prospective employers and other supporters.
The company has since expanded its efforts to build awareness and to prevent domestic violence. The company's HopeLine program now collects wireless phones that are no longer being used. The phones are either refurbished and recycled, or sold.
The company uses the funds raised from the sale of the refurbished phones to purchase wireless phones to donate to domestic violence victims through human services and law enforcement agencies. The company also makes financial grants to regional and national domestic violence organizations, such as the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and other select community interest groups.
In 2001, Verizon Wireless donated more than 4,000 wireless phones in addition to airtime, and more than $350,000 in monetary and other contributions to domestic violence shelters and prevention programs across the country. "Domestic violence is an epidemic that can affect anyone," said Patrick Devlin, regional president for Verizon Wireless in Washington/Baltimore and Virginia. "This conference will be a wake-up call for many businesses that think they are immune to domestic violence and its devastating impact."
Verizon Wireless' efforts to ensure the safety of victims while at work include: policies that establish a culture of awareness and assistance internally, employee volunteerism, executive leadership, and company commitment to external organizations.
With the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Verizon Wireless is a founding participant in the Corporate Citizenship Initiative (CCI), a first-of-its-kind national project that develops workplace-based programs to stop domestic violence. On behalf of the CCI, Verizon Wireless sponsored the creation of workplace awareness/education posters to further the message that domestic violence is a business issue that must be addressed.
About Family & Child Services of Washington, D.C. Inc.
Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C., Inc. is one of the oldest non-profit social services organizations in the nation's capital. Each year, F&CS provides critical assistance to more than 10,000 individuals -- strengthening troubled families, caring for at-risk children and protecting the vulnerable elderly -- in the Washington metropolitan area. Founded by volunteers in 1881 to "end pauperism and help the destitute," F&CS has a reputation for broad, innovative programs that provide a network of quality services to our neighbors in need.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications and Internet services. The company has the largest nationwide wireless network and 29 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Reporters and editors can find more information on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.
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