November 20th, 2014 | Sterling
What Every Employer Can Learn from NFL Domestic Violence Scandals
Professional sports have recently been receiving a different, less glowing sort of news coverage than usual . Several athletes have found themselves at the heart of domestic violence cases. And the media frenzy shows no signs of slowing as a line-up of pro athletes seem to be waiting for their turn to headline newspapers across the country for all the wrong reasons.
In February 2014, a video went viral of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée from an Atlantic City elevator following a physical altercation. The NFL took their time before suspending Rice, eventually handing down a mere two game suspension. It drew heavy criticism from fans and sponsors as the general consensus was that Rice should have faced tougher consequences. A second video surfaced in September 2014 that captured Rice punching his fiancée inside the elevator. The second video revived the negative press for the NFL and only mere hours after it was released, the league announced that Rice would be suspended indefinitely and the Ravens terminated his contract. The incident also sparked New Jersey lawmakers to consider creating new courts to specifically address domestic violence cases.
A short while after the Ray Rice incident, Adrian Peterson was arrested for child abuse after he allegedly beat his 4-year-old son with a tree branch (also known as a switch) as a form of disciplining him. The 4-year-old was left with several cuts and bruises to his lower body and defensive wounds on his hands.
And it’s not just NFL players who have found themselves in the middle of domestic violence accusations. Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings was arrested for domestic violence after his wife was admitted to hospital for her injuries. The couple claims that it’s all a misunderstanding due to a language barrier, but the NHL is taking no chances amid the flurry of professional athletes involved in domestic violence incidents. The NHL suspended Voynov indefinitely as a precaution.
Even though these incidents occurred off the field (or off the ice in Voynov’s case), it certainly hasn’t made the professional sports industry look good. And the reputational damage has been costly. In fact, due to the string of domestic violence cases plaguing the NFL, several sponsors have temporarily scaled back their advertising with the league. Some sponsors have been more vocal about their dissatisfaction with the NFL. One of their largest and most prominent sponsors Anheuser-Busch, the manufacturer of Bud Light, slammed the league for how they dealt with the incidents. The beer maker wasn’t the only big name sponsor to voice concern, as Pepsico, McDonald’s, Visa, and Campbell’s Soup also commented on their expectation that the NFL revisit how they manage domestic violence cases involving their players.
So what can the average employer learn from these cases? First of all, don’t assume that you’re in the clear because your organization doesn’t employ professional athletes or celebrities. Any criminal charges involving your employees can reflect poorly on your organization. Unfortunately, when indiscretions occur in an employee’s personal life, it can spell bad news for your company’s reputation.
Secondly, using risk alerts can help you get ahead of employee criminal activity. Employee Risk Alerts notify you when one of your employees has been arrested or convicted. This allows employers to review the information and take action when necessary to prevent the organization, its employees, and its reputation from harm – both physically and financially.
And finally, have a background screening policy and stick to it. A background screening policy is important for the protection of your organization, but it’s useless if it’s ignored. Follow your policy 100% of the time and don’t fall into the trap of making exceptions – one may lead to many. Background screening is one of the most effective ways that companies can protect their brand, their people, and their assets making every dollar spent, well worth the investment.
Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.