Andrea Chang, a writer for the LA Times, reported here that some Target retail stores in urban centers employ social workers to provide advice upon request to store workers. It’s an innovative employee benefit which Target says helps combat “absenteeism and turnover” in its population of workers drawn from the same urban areas.
Of the social worker in the Compton (California) store, the reporter writes that Saundra Edwards walks the store, making herself available to all store employees:
She makes eye contact with everyone, signaling her willingness to be pulled over for a talk. Soon she runs into a thirtysomething sales clerk, and the two of them huddle by a rack of women’s clothing.
The woman had a rough time last year when she was working at one of the other Targets that Edwards tends. Boyfriend trouble made the sales clerk fear for her safety. The situation at home caused her to miss shifts, putting her at risk of getting fired.
Edwards stepped in, finding her a space in a women’s shelter and arranging a transfer to the Compton store, giving her a fresh start.
The woman is now back on her feet, reconciled with her boyfriend and, store managers say, consistently showing up for work.
Huh? A threat to one’s physical safety isn’t “boyfriend trouble.” One doesn’t go to a women’s shelter because of “boyfriend trouble.” Boyfriend trouble occurs when one partner wants a quiet evening in, and the other partner wants a night on the town with a group of friends. Boyfriend trouble is I-was-hoping-for-a-card-and-a-box-of-chocolates-but-he-gave-me-new-wiper-blades-instead.
Domestic violence is illegal. It’s not “boyfriend trouble.” Ok, the story wasn’t about domestic violence, but Ms. Chang, the reporter, could have described responsibly the type of assistance rendered by the social worker without trivializing it.