Domestic Violence Workplace Policy
I. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The Office of the Attorney General ("the Office") is committed to promoting the health and safety of its employees. This commitment includes the prevention and reduction of the incidence and effects of domestic violence.
While the Office recognizes that both men and women are victims of domestic violence, the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic violence are women. In fact, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.
The Office recognizes that domestic violence is a workplace issue. Domestic violence does not stay at home when victims and perpetrators go to work. Victims may be especially vulnerable while they are at work. Domestic violence can compromise the safety of employees and directly interfere with the mission of the Office by decreasing morale and productivity, as well as by increasing absenteeism and health costs.
For these reasons, the Office has established this workplace domestic violence policy. The specific purposes of the policy are to:
- Create a supportive workplace environment in which employees feel comfortable discussing domestic violence issues and seeking assistance for domestic violence situations;
- Develop responsive policies and procedures to assist employees who are affected by domestic violence;
- Provide immediate assistance to victims;
- Provide assistance and/or disciplinary action to employees who are perpetrators of abuse; and
- Offer training on recognizing and responding to domestic violence.
This policy recognizes that, in accordance with 26 M.R.S.A. § 850, an employer must grant reasonable and necessary leave from work, with or without pay, to an employee who is a victim to prepare for and attend court proceedings; receive medical treatment; attend to the medical treatment of a child, parent or spouse who is a victim; or obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The necessity of the leave must be based upon the employee or the employee's daughter, son, parent or spouse being a victim of violence, assault, sexual assault, stalking or any act that would support an order for protection from abuse.
The Office will not tolerate domestic violence in the workplace, and will take action to prevent and correct the misuse of the State's resources in connection with domestic violence. Misuse of the State's resources in connection with domestic violence will result in discipline up to and including discharge.
- Domestic Violence : A pattern of coercive behavior that is used by a person against family or household members to gain power and control over the other party in the relationship. This behavior may include any of the following: physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse and threats, stalking, isolation from friends and family, economic control, and destruction of personal property. Domestic violence occurs between people of all racial, economic, educational, and religious backgrounds. It occurs in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, between married and unmarried partners, between current and former partners, and between other family and household members.
- Batterer, Perpetrator, or Abuser : An individual who commits domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Sexual assault : An act of sexual violence whereby a party forces, coerces, or manipulates another to participate in unwanted sexual activity. This behavior may include stranger rape, date and acquaintance rape, marital or partner rape, incest, child sexual abuse, sexual contact, sexual harassment, ritual abuse, exposure, and voyeurism.
- Stalking : An unwanted course of conduct by one person directed toward another specific person that is intended to cause that person fear of harm, emotional distress or substantial inconvenience. Stalking may involve direct or indirect contact and may occur between intimate partners, acquaintances, or strangers. Stalking behaviors include but are not limited to: following a person; appearing at a person's home or workplace; making harassing phone calls; sending letters or e-mails; leaving written messages or objects; or vandalizing a person's property.
- Survivor or Victim : An individual subjected to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Domestic Violence Response Team/Responder : Designated employees with specialized training to handle disclosures, referrals, and office safety planning. All Office staff with management or supervisory responsibility are Responders. See Appendix for a list of current Responders.
- Workplace : An employee is considered to be in the workplace when the employee is conducting State business, is in State-owned or leased workspace, is using the facilities or services of the State, is using State resources or equipment, is wearing a uniform, is using a vehicle that is owned or leased by the State or its agencies, is attending a work-related conference, or is traveling on behalf of the State.
- Workplace Safety Plan : A strategy developed in collaboration with a victim to implement workplace safety options, including, but not limited to: setting up procedures for alerting security or police; temporary relocation of the victim to a secure area; voluntary temporary transfer or permanent relocation to a new work site; reassignment of parking space; escort for entry to and exit from the work site; responding to telephone, fax, e-mail, or mail harassment; and, keeping a photograph of the abuser or a copy of an existing court order in a confidential on-site location and providing copies to designated personnel.
III. PERSONS COVERED BY THIS POLICY
Persons covered by this policy include Office employees, interns, contractors, volunteers, or temporary workers, in any workplace location.
IV. STATEMENT OF CONFIDENTIALITY
The Office recognizes and respects an employee's right to privacy and need for confidentiality and autonomy. To the extent permitted by law and unless the substance of the employee's disclosure demands otherwise, the Office will maintain the confidentiality of an employee's disclosure. Responders will share disclosures with the Personnel Manager. However, unless necessary, the information will not be shared with other employees in the Office. Whenever possible, the employee will be given notice of necessary further disclosures. Further disclosure may be necessary if, in the opinion of the person to whom the initial disclosure is made, an abuser presents a threat to the safety of any person, the employee has expressed homicidal or suicidal intentions, or there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation of children or incapacitated or dependent adults.
V. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
- This policy will be distributed to all current employees. New employees will receive the policy upon commencing employment. All employees are expected to become familiar with this policy and to attend domestic violence training as provided by the Office. The policy is also posted on the Office's website.
- Managers, supervisors, and members of the Domestic Violence Response Team will attend specialized training, as provided by the Office, focused on identifying and responding to issues of domestic violence in the workplace.
- An Education and Outreach Committee will be established to provide continuing opportunities for education and discussion. Such activities may include "Lunch and Learn" sessions, speakers, and a lending library. The Committee will attempt to maintain, publish, and post a list of resources for survivors of domestic violence in locations of high visibility, such as bulletin boards, break rooms, and the Office intranet. Resources should include but not be limited to: the hotline numbers of local domestic violence projects, the State of Maine's confidential Employee Assistance Program ("EAP"), the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (statewide domestic violence coalition), and the phone number and description of other domestic violence resources in the community (court, police, victim advocates, legal assistance, and sexual assault services and hotlines). The Committee will also maintain a current list of state-certified batterers intervention programs.
VI. RESPONSE AND ASSISTANCE
- Disclosure; Requests for Information, Referral, and Assistance
The Office will offer support and referrals for assistance to those employees who disclose concerns or request help. The Office will designate trained persons to whom disclosures may be made. Designated persons include members of the Response Team and all Division Chiefs, the Chief Deputy, and the Attorney General. All employees wishing to discuss domestic violence issues are encouraged to speak with whomever they are most comfortable.
- Response to Victims
- Any person who is concerned about his or her safety at work should speak to a member of the Response Team, a Division Chief, the Chief Deputy, or the Attorney General.
- If domestic violence is occurring in the workplace, is affecting the performance of the victim or the victim's co-workers, or if the victim otherwise requests, the Office will assist the victim. The Office recognizes all persons' rights to privacy, autonomy, and safety, and the corresponding need to control the process following any disclosure. To the extent that disclosures do not implicate issues of workplace safety and performance, and to the extent permitted by law and this policy, the Office's response will be guided by the expressed wishes of the victim, and may include the following:
- Referring individuals to appropriate agencies and services, including EAP, local domestic violence projects and sexual assault centers, legal services, law enforcement, medical and counseling services;
- Assessment of the victim's need to be absent from work;
- Providing information regarding employment benefits, including processes for changing insurance benefits, requesting paid and unpaid leave, and changing pay arrangements (such as direct deposit of paychecks)
- Developing an individualized workplace safety plan in conjunction with appropriate agencies and services.
- If any person is at immediate risk in the workplace, the Office will follow protocols for notifying law enforcement and Capitol Security, and follow applicable emergency or safety procedures.
- Victims are encouraged to disclose the existence of Temporary and Permanent Orders for Protection from Abuse or Harassment to a member of the Domestic Violence Response Team, especially when the order includes a provision that the perpetrator is not to have contact with the victim at the victim's place of employment. The responder will follow the provisions of this policy with respect to response and assistance to the victim, and address the issue of workplace safety plans with the victim as appropriate.
- Response to Employees Concerned about Domestic Violence
- If an employee has a concern that a co-worker is a victim of domestic violence, the employee is encouraged to contact a member of the Response Team to discuss the concern. The responder will work with the concerned employee to determine the appropriate response. In addition, the responder may discuss the matter with the Chief Deputy Attorney General, or the Attorney General if there is an immediate safety risk to anyone in the workplace, or if the perceived problem has an effect on the workplace, including but not limited to safety, job performance, and morale. The responder will maintain the confidentiality of the disclosing employee to the extent permitted by law and this policy.
- If an employee experiences or witnesses violence or threats of violence in the workplace, the employee should report the incident to a supervisor, or the Personnel Manager immediately.
- Employees may wish to seek assistance and information from a responder before speaking with a perceived victim, but this approach is not required. If an employee discusses concerns about safety with a victim, the employee should only offer help, not judgment. The employee should also:
- Refer the victim to appropriate agencies and services, including EAP, local domestic violence projects and sexual assault centers, legal services, law enforcement, medical and counseling services; and
- Remind the employee about this policy; and
- Encourage the victim to seek assistance when addressing personal and workplace safety issues.
The Personnel Manager will maintain copies of orders for protection from abuse and other documents that demonstrate workplace domestic violence in a confidential file. The Office will develop necessary protocols related to maintaining records of domestic violence disclosures.
In instances where the Department is aware that a victim has performance or conduct problems as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, the Department will offer support and an opportunity to correct the problems. Supervisors may develop a work plan with the employee to assist and support the employee in meeting performance expectations.
The Division Chief or supervisor, in collaboration with the employee and any other appropriate agencies (which may include the EAP, the Bureau of Human Resources, or the collective bargaining agent), should allow a reasonable amount of time away from work for the employee to obtain assistance regarding domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. This time may be drawn from sick or vacation leave, unpaid leave, or a leave bank, as determined appropriate and available. Any such leave will be consistent, at a minimum, with 26 M.R.S.A. § 850 and any applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Nothing in this policy alters the authority of this Office to establish performance expectations, counsel employees, impose discipline, reassign duties, place an employee on leave, or take other action as it deems appropriate.
Information or documents pertaining to a victim's involvement in a domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking situation will be kept in a separate confidential file and will not be considered for purposes of hiring, transfer or promotion.
In the event that an employee is ultimately unable to maintain employment with the Office as a result of domestic violence, the employee will be provided with information about Title 26, M.R.S.A., §§1043 and 1193 (Unemployment Compensation Disqualification and Misconduct Clauses) which provide
s victims with the right to collect unemployment benefits if they leave their employment in order to preserve their own safety, or if they have been terminated because of performance issues stemming from domestic violence.
- The Office encourages employees who are perpetrators to voluntarily seek assistance from any of the community resources or the State's confidential Employee Assistance Program.
- If an employee discloses that he or she is or has been a perpetrator of domestic violence, the responder should refer the employee to the EAP and a local state-certified Batterers' Intervention Project. In every situation where an employee makes this disclosure, the Personnel Manager or other appropriate individual will immediately be included in the discussion related to the disclosure.
- If an employee is concerned that a co-worker is a perpetrator of domestic violence, the employee should notify a member of the Response Team. The employee shall not confront the co-worker directly. Instead, the responder will discuss the issue with the Personnel Manager who will decide how best to address the situation.
- Employees who, while on-duty, engage in behaviors that constitute domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination. In some cases, where there is a connection between off-duty conduct of this nature and one's employment with the State, that off-duty conduct may lead to discipline, up to and including termination.
- On-Duty : Any employee who commits domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking in the workplace (see definitions) will be subject to corrective or disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The use of State resources or equipment in connection with domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking is prohibited. Any employee who misuses any State resources such as work time, work place telephones, a firearm, facsimile machines, mail, electronic mail, a state vehicle, state credit card or other means to commit domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking at any time or place, will be subject to corrective or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
- Off-Duty : Any employee who is: (i) found by the Office to have engaged in domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; or (ii) arrested, convicted, or named as a defendant in a protective order as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, may be subject to corrective or disciplinary action, up to and including termination when such action has a nexus/connection to his or her employment with the State.
- Criminal charges and protective orders Any employee who is a named defendant in a civil or criminal action involving domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking must disclose any order regarding protection from abuse or harassment, or any condition of bail or probation applicable to the employee that includes:
- Conditions that may interfere in any way with the employee's ability to perform job duties;
- Conditions prohibiting or limiting contact with other employees of this Office; or 3. Conditions prohibiting or limiting contact with State employees of other Departments with whom there is a work relationship.
The employee must disclose the above information to their Division Chief or the Chief Deputy at the beginning of the employee's next scheduled work day after entry of the order or imposition of applicable condition of bail or probation.
Failure to provide the above information may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
VIII. COORDINATION WITH OTHER STATE AGENCIES
When an employee of this office is involved in a situation of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking with an employee of another State agency and there is reason to believe a workplace issue is involved, the Personnel Manager will work with the other agency to assure an appropriate coordinated response.
No manager or supervisor shall take any retaliatory action against an employee for making a complaint or observation of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking or otherwise asserting rights or responsibilities under this policy or relevant laws. Any manager or supervisor who is found to have taken retaliatory action against an employee in violation of this section may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
The Office is committed to providing a supportive workplace environment free of domestic violence. The Office will work to respond and provide immediate assistance to employees affected by abuse.
Employees with questions about this policy or ideas to improve this policy
should contact a responder or Division Chief.
Reissued: October , 2012
WILLIAM J. SCHNEIDER
Effective Date: September 4, 2003
Revised: March 23, 2007
Revised: October , 2012
The State of Maine and the Office also have policies covering Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA), Harassment, and E-mail Usage and the Internet. The Office’s EEO/AA and Harassment Policies are available on the Office's website and in the Office Employee Handbook.
Designated Domestic Violence Responders
The office has specially trained these employees to respond to issues of domestic abuse. Please call 626-8800 to contact any of the responders listed below.
- Black, Andrew
- Demeritt, Martha
- Fuller, Susan
- Harnett, Dori
- Hathaway, David
- Herman, Susan
- Laubenstein, William
- Marchese, Lisa
- Raquet, Janine
- Reid, Jerry
- Silver, Heidi
- Stern, Paul
- Stokes, William
- Stuver, Janice
- Belserene, Mark
- Bielau-Nivus, Jan
- Blodgett, Seth
- Boynton, Ralph
- Brooks, Linda
- Conti, Linda
- Cram, Michelle
- Diaz, Carlos
- Higgins, Valerie
- Joyeux, Janet
- Lizanecz, Peter
- MacMaster, Brian
- McLaggan, Annette
- Pistner, Linda
- Rice, Deb
- Savage, Bill
- Willis, Debby
- Campbell, Polly
- Greenwald, Peggy
- Leighton, Chris
- Perkins, Bob
- Gallant, Laura
Certain persons are "mandated reporters" of abuse or neglect of children, and abuse, neglect or exploitation of incapacitated or dependent adults. Mandated reporters include law enforcement officials. See 22 M.R.S.A. § 4011-A; 22 M.R.S.A. § 3477. In addition, any person may make an optional report if that person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child or incapacitated adult has been or is likely to be abused. Victims should be aware that situations involving suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of children or incapacitated or dependent adults may be reported to outside agencies, as provided by law.