Domestic Violence In The Workplace- The Worst Mass Murder Suicide in New Mexico History

It seemed as though Adrienne Basciano was doing everything right. Adrienne, who found herself in a volatile relationship with boyfriend Robert Reza, found the courage to end the relationship about a year ago. Having told her close friends and family that she was “scared of him”, she must have felt a sense of relief once he moved out of their shared home and away from their twin 5 year old boys. Adrienne, trying to protect her children, found herself in a bitter custody battle with Reza, a fight that recently turned deadly.

On July 21, Robert Reza arrived at Adrienne’s place of business, a solar manufacturing plant called Emcore in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Reza stormed through his former workplace without provocation or warning, shot his first victim and continued on a spree that left three dead and two injured. Robert found Adrienne in the employee break room where she was shot several times as she lay helpless. Three others were eventually shot and wounded before Reza pointed the gun towards his head and killed himself. It is said to be the worst mass murder-suicide in New Mexico’s history.

While often viewed as a private matter, domestic violence isn’t isolated to the ‘domestic realm’ and doesn’t stay home when its victims go to work. With nearly one-third of American women (31%) reporting being physically or sexually abused by a partner, it should not be a surprise that in any mid-to-large sized company, domestic violence is affecting employees and a company’s bottom line. In fact, a study of domestic violence survivors found that 74% of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while at work. Also, domestic violence costs companies more than $735 million every year

There is no way to predict the irrational actions of an abuser, but as far as I am concerned, it is better to be safe than sorry. We must prepare for the worst in order to prevent similar situations from occurring. Business leaders must begin to consider the notion that the work place is not immune to acts of domestic violence, and view it as a serious, recognizable, and preventable problem that not only impacts the company’s bottom line but the very lives of employees.

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  • crowepps

     Business leaders must begin to consider the notion that the work place is not immune to acts of domestic violence, and view it as a serious, recognizable, and preventable problem that not only impacts the company’s bottom line but the very lives of employees.

    Unfortunately, while business leaders do recognize that domestic violence can impact the workplace, their easy solution tends to be firing the employee who is being harassed, which plays right into the hands of the abuser by putting the victim in the economic control of the abuser.

    Clarence Curtis “Curt” McCann Jr., 53, was arrested Jan. 26 after police say he walked — intoxicated and armed with a gun — into the North Franklin Street office where his estranged wife had worked for 11 years. The pair struggled and the gun was fired into a door.

    The victim, Chari McCann, said Dr. Peter McDonald fired her from her job as a dental assistant three days later. She said she feels betrayed.


    According to the lawsuit, Gillies was beaten on the night of Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007, resulting in “multiple bruises, contusions, a cranial sprain and muscle soreness.”

    Since Thursdays were her day off, she reported back to work at the library on Friday, Feb. 9, 2007, and read to a group of children. But Gillies’ injuries were tough to hide that day, and the lawsuit says she became ill. This prompted Gillies to tell the library’s interim director about the beating. Gillies said her “spouse was abusive,” and that she was seeking a restraining order, the lawsuit states.

    The interim director told Gillies to take a “few days of sick time to recover” from the injuries. Four days later, the interim director called Gillies about a meeting to discuss concerns the library had “about the implications of the restraining order.”

    At the meeting, Gillies was urged to take a four-week paid leave of absence and to not work, even from home. The library board also discussed “safety issues for the library” and “wanted assurances” that Gillies would continue with counseling, the lawsuit states. The board wanted to know the identity of her therapist but Gillies refused. The board later asked Gillies to provide updates from her therapist.


    How Does Domestic Violence Impact the Workplace?

    There are 30,000 to 40,000 incidents of domestic abuse in the workplace each year.

    96 percent of employees who are victims of domestic violence report some type of workplace problem as a direct result of their abuse.

    60 percent are often late for work due to domestic violence.

    54 percent have missed at least 3 full days of work per month.

    Work performance suffers for 70 percent.

    60 percent are reprimanded for diminished performance.

    30 percent are fired.


    When Gina Reynolds, 39, a victim of repeated spousal abuse, left her violent, drug-addicted husband, she and her two children stayed with relatives, friends, at shelters and hotels; they even slept in a car. In March 2002, the Department of Correction granted Reynolds sick leave in order to have time to look for an apartment… Reynolds and her children moved into Safe Horizon, a domestic violence shelter,in May 2002. In order to protect residents from the abusers who forced them into the shelter, it is standard practice to require that the shelter’s address not be revealed. Therefore, Reynolds supplied the department with the address of Safe Horizon’s headquarters rather than the shelter itself. … Her employment was then terminated for being away from her residence while on sick leave.

    Justice Lewis B. York of New York State Supreme Court … ruled that Reynolds be reinstated to her Riker’s Island job with back pay

  • catseye71352

    Way to go, employers; punish the _victim_

  • crowepps

    You have 10 employees in your little business.   While certainly the victim of the abuse is blameless, as an employer don’t you have a responsibility to keep the nutjob from shooting the OTHER 9 employees as well?


    Personally, I think people who are abusive and make threats should be treated as either seriously mentally ill (and locked up) or criminal (and locked up) which would end the whole problem for everybody.

  • catseye71352

    How is throwing a DV victim to the wolves going to protect the other people? We need an organization that can help women who are fired for being victimized to sue for wrongful termination.

  • saltyc

    Wait. We should lock up people for being seriously mentally ill???

    I disagree. I think we should only lock people up if they break the law, after due process, but that’s I guess another discussion.

  • crowepps

    If a person is abusive and makes threats and is in control of his/her actions he/she is a criminal and (after due process) needs to be locked up.


    If a person is abusive and makes threats and is NOT in control of her/his actions she/he is mentally ill and (after due process) needs to be locked up for his/her own safety and that of others.


    It is the abusive and the threats, NOT the mental illness.  The vast majority of people who are mentally ill are not abusive and do not threaten others.  The ones who do, BECAUSE they are unable to control their actions, need help and need to be separated from society until they can safety rejoin it.


    I admit I personally cannot entirely imagine what it would be like to be put BACK on the  meds in jail and regain contact with reality and realize that while off the meds you hacked your father to death or drowned your kids, but I wouldn’t think it was a situation which in human decency we would want to allow people to find themselves in just because we were reluctant to look ‘prejudiced’.


    I am aware that dangerousness to self or others can’t always be predicted accurately, although abuse and threats seem to me strong indicators, but even if the right call was only made 50% of the time, that would certainly save everyone including the mentally ill a great deal of pain.

  • crowepps

    How is throwing a DV victim to the wolves going to protect the other people?

    Since the abuser is focused on one person, when that person leaves, the abuser follows from that workplace to the new workplace, if any, or home, and the remaining employees (and employer) are less likely to be around when nutjob starts shooting.  This of course, wouldn’t be necessary if nutjob hit jail promptly the first time he/she violated the restraining order.


    Do note that loss of employment happens in only 30% of cases, which is still too many, and that state by state, laws are being changed to protect victims’ jobs, and local domestic violence groups do indeed help find attorneys who will help with wrongful termination suits.