Employee-Involved Domestic Violence
Enacted: Jul 2005
Community corrections employees are not immune from committing or being the victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pervasive and insidious justice system problem that has no boundaries regarding the age, race, sex, religion, education, socioeconomic class, or professional affiliation of either victims or perpetrators.
Both in frequency and severity, intimate partner violence is primarily, but not exclusively, a crime committed by men against their female partners. Women experience more intimate partner violence, are more likely to be injured by this violence, and are more likely to be a homicide victim as a result of intimate partner violence than their male counterparts. However, females do injure and even murder male intimate partners. Further, domestic violence and child abuse often co-occur within the same households. Domestic violence rates are unacceptably high, and domestic violence results in unnecessary injuries, deaths, economic hardships, and emotional suffering for victims, their families, friends, associates, and the community. Domestic violence costs victims and society billions of dollars each year, with employers and victimized employees each experiencing significant losses.
The American Probation and Parole Association recommends that community corrections agencies and professionals take a proactive stance to address domestic violence by establishing protocols for the supervision of domestic violence cases and adopting policies to address employee-involved domestic violence. The following model policy on employee-involved domestic violence is recommended.
Employers are required to provide a safe working environment for all employees as mandated by federal, state and local laws and policies. Employers must respond proactively to safeguard employees if actual or threatened domestic violence affects employees at the workplace. When domestic violence is perpetrated, the first priority is victim, workplace, and community safety, followed by offender accountability. The perspective of this policy is that domestic abuse is unacceptable. Those who are victims of domestic violence and are employees of a community corrections agency should be provided support and necessary considerations to promote their safety. To preserve the integrity of the community corrections profession, to enhance community trust in the justice system, to promote justice, and to set an example for all offenders, domestic violence perpetrated by employees of community corrections agencies will not be tolerated.
- Domestic Violence (or intimate partner violence)
- is a systematic pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors used to exert dominance and control over the victim. Violent and abusive behaviors include both criminal and noncriminal actions such as physical assaults, intimidation, threats, isolation, stalking, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, using children, economic control, and using male privilege. These behaviors are not done in the defense of oneself or others.
- Intimate Partners
- are those who currently are or previously were involved in an intimate relationship. This includes people who are married, separated, divorced, have a child in common, cohabit or formerly cohabited romantically, dated or formerly dated, or are otherwise defined as intimate partners by jurisdictional statutes. It does not include other family relationships such as parent-child, siblings, or other extended family relationships that do not involve an intimate partnership. Intimate partners include both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
- Community Corrections Agency/Professional
- refers to any agency or professional that provides community supervision to defendants and convicted offenders under the jurisdiction of a court or releasing authority. This typically includes pretrial, probation, parole, and community-based programs (e.g., halfway houses).
- Domestic Violence Victim Advocates
- work in an independent, community-based organization with the sole focus of supporting, assisting, and advocating on behalf of domestic violence victims. They are not constrained by allegiances to any person or organization other than the domestic violence victim. Other victim assistance personnel may work with domestic violence victims, such as victim-witness professionals in a prosecutor’s office, but they have to maintain allegiances to both the victim and the justice system.
- Protection Orders
- are any injunctions or other orders issued by a court to restrict the actions of a domestic violence perpetrator toward a victim. These may be issued by either civil or criminal courts and may be called an order of protection, a temporary order of protection, a restraining order, a temporary restraining order, an injunction, an injunction against harassment, a protection from abuse order, an order against abuse, a stay-away order or some variation thereof. The purpose of protection orders may include preventing the perpetrator from committing violent or threatening acts, stalking, or harassment, contacting or communicating with the victim, or being in the physical proximity of the victim.
The following procedures are designed to address both victim safety and offender accountability in situations in which employees are involved in a violent intimate partnership.
A. Develop Proactive Policies
Agencies will develop proactive written policies that express zero tolerance for domestic violence and outline procedures to be taken if an employee is the perpetrator or victim of domestic violence.
Action Steps ::
- Agency administrators will write policies consistent with this model policy that reflect intolerance for domestic violence by employees and express support and assistance for employees who are victimized by domestic violence. Policies will undergo standard procedures for adoption by the agency’s administrative staff and/or governing body.
- Agencies will include local domestic violence victim advocates in the development and/or review of policies on employee-involved domestic violence.
- Employers will develop and implement general workplace safety policies, such as building security, emergency procedures, and procedures for employee safety when conducting field work. These will be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are consistent with safety measures needed for domestic violence victims and adjusted when needed.
- Employers will regularly review agency policy manuals and other literature to ensure an accurate, consistent, and strong message is conveyed about the agency’s stance on employee-involved domestic violence. As printed or electronic materials about the agency are updated, information on domestic violence will be inserted as appropriate.
- Policies will convey that all agency employees are expected to be respectful of other people. Language and practices that convey sexism, racism or other bias against groups of people will not be tolerated. Supervisors, managers, and administrators of the agency will set a tone that communicates intolerance for domestic violence or other discriminatory behavior and will address any incidents of staff’s inadvertent complicity with domestic violence perpetrators.
- Other community and justice system agencies that may be affected by the community corrections agency’s domestic violence policies (e.g., law enforcement, courts) will be informed of these policies.
B. Promote Awareness of Domestic Violence among Employees
All community corrections employees will be made aware of domestic violence, its effects on victims and their families, and the agency’s policies on employee-involved domestic violence. They should receive information that is useful in case management of offenders who perpetrate domestic violence as well as information that may be useful if employees are involved personally in intimate partner violence. All information conveyed to community corrections employees will emphasize that the agency does not tolerate the perpetration of domestic violence and will afford support and protection to employees who are victims of domestic violence.
Action Steps ::
- Agencies will include local domestic violence victim advocates in the development and delivery of training and other information on domestic violence.
- Employers will provide regular in-service training on domestic violence, at least annually, for both new and permanent employees. This training will include but not be limited to: the dynamics of domestic violence; the effects of domestic violence on victims and their children; warning signs of domestic violence; victim safety strategies; federal, state and local domestic violence laws; agency policies about domestic violence in the workplace; and available resources for victims of domestic violence. Employees who supervise perpetrators of domestic violence crimes will receive additional in-depth training on personal safety, supervision strategies, and working with victims for these cases.
- Supervisors of agency personnel will receive additional training on how to identify and intervene in situations in which they become aware of domestic violence perpetration or victimization.
- Agencies will periodically reach out to employees and their intimate partners with information about domestic violence policies, whom to contact if they have a concern or want to report domestic violence, and information on local services for domestic violence victims. Agencies with internal victim services staff can assist with domestic violence training and referrals. Victim services staff should maintain information on community and justice system domestic violence resources and provide assistance to victim-employees with preliminary safety planning.
- Employers will furnish information on domestic violence and available resources in the workplace at locations where employees can obtain and review it confidentially. Information also may be posted on employee bulletin boards and circulated in agency newsletters as appropriate.
- Information on policies related to domestic violence for employee-victims or perpetrators will be included in information packets provided to all new employees of the agency.
- Employers will inform employees of ways in which domestic violence affects health insurance and whether domestic violence may be designated as a preexisting condition.
C. Support and Protect Employee Domestic Violence Victims
Victims of domestic violence who are employees of community corrections agencies may experience a variety of problems affecting their job performance. Absenteeism, reduced productivity and effectiveness, receiving excessive telephone calls or other unwanted contacts at work from an abuser, and signs of stress, depression, or substance abuse are all possible indicators of domestic violence victimization that may affect job performance. Consequences for the agency also may include escalating health care costs and increased employee turnover. Beyond the effects on victim-employees, domestic violence perpetrators may pose a threat to other employees or interfere with their work performance while they harass, stalk, or abuse their victim in the workplace.
Action Steps ::
- Employers will not inquire about or require potential employees to disclose domestic violence victimization during or as a condition of the hiring process. However, they will make employees aware of the agency’s policies about employee-involved domestic violence at the time of employment.
- Supervisors will provide a safe and confidential way for employees to inform them if they are victims of domestic violence. If employees choose not to disclose their abuse, no further questions or speculation will be made.
- Supervisors will maintain current knowledge of community and justice system resources that may be helpful to domestic violence victims and will make appropriate referrals of employee-victims when needed.
- Supervisors will maintain the confidentiality of employee information about domestic violence victimization except in circumstances in which disclosure would promote victim safety or in which maintaining confidentiality would jeopardize the safety of the victim or his/her co-workers. If requested by the employee, every possible effort will be made to keep the employee’s personal information (such as home address, telephone number) confidential. If supervisors must breach confidentiality of victim information for any reason, they will inform the victim of the information released and with whom it was shared.
- Employees reporting domestic violence victimization will be provided with information about obtaining protective orders to keep their abusers away from their home, workplace and other locations they frequent. If employee-victims have a protective order but it does not include the workplace, supervisors will encourage them to request an amended order to add the workplace. Supervisors will encourage an employee-victim to provide a copy of the protective order to them (supervisors), security staff, and local law enforcement along with a picture of the domestic violence perpetrator. Agency administrators may seek a restraining order on behalf of the agency to deter perpetrators from stalking or abusing the victim at work if these are available in the local jurisdiction and if deemed necessary to protect agency personnel.
- Supervisors will have protocols in place for obtaining emergency assistance if the employee-victim or other staff members are in immediate danger.
- Supervisors will request that employee-victims of domestic violence provide home and emergency contact information that supervisors will maintain confidentially. If an employee-victim is absent from work without notifying the agency, the supervisor will make efforts to contact the employee as soon as possible after the absence is noted.
- Supervisors will arrange for a checkout system for all employees who leave the worksite for business purposes. If an employee-victim does not return or check in by the planned time, supervisors or their designees will follow a predetermined protocol for trying to contact the employee, contacting the employee’s alternate phone numbers, and then reporting the absence to law enforcement.
- Supervisors will make reasonable accommodations for employee-victims who need to miss work or adjust their schedules to attend to legal matters, medical treatments, or matters involving their children that are directly related to domestic violence perpetrated against the employee.
- Supervisors will make other reasonable accommodations to promote the safety of employee-victims of domestic violence when possible, such as changes in work location, job responsibilities, work schedules, and performance expectations.
- If an employee-victim is receiving unwanted phone calls, mail, e-mail or other contacts at work from the perpetrator, the supervisor will make arrangements to have these communications screened by other staff, if possible.
- The agency will arrange for employee-victims to have parking spaces that are close to the building in well-lighted areas.
- Employee-victims who are concerned for their safety in the workplace will not be required to work at hours when few or no other staff members are available.
- If the employee is the victim of domestic violence perpetrated by another employee, the supervisor will take action immediately to promote the victim’s safety through allowable personnel policies, such as granting requested leave to the victim, granting the perpetrator involuntary leave, reassigning the victim or the perpetrator, or moving the victim and/or perpetrator to worksites in which they do not have contact with each other. If possible, victims should be given their preferences about work assignments and worksites.
- If agency policy requires the employee-victim to carry a firearm, the supervisor will make provisions for the safe storage of that firearm at the worksite, if requested.
- Where possible, agency policies will permit changes in benefits at any time during the year for employees who have been victims of domestic violence and have separated from an intimate partner.
D. Hold Employee Perpetrators of Domestic Violence Accountable
Because employees of community corrections agencies hold positions of trust in the community and the justice system and they should provide examples of prosocial behavior for the offenders they supervise, their job-related and personal conduct must be lawful at all times. Perpetration of domestic violence by community corrections employees is criminal and is unacceptable whether it is committed at or away from the workplace. Employees of community corrections agencies who perpetrate domestic violence will be held accountable, as would any other perpetrator.
Actions Steps ::
- Applicants for employment in community corrections will be screened for a history of perpetrating domestic violence. Backgrounds will be checked through available databases including arrest history and being the respondent to a protection order. Candidates also will be asked if they have engaged in, been investigated for, or been convicted of any domestic violence offenses. In accordance with jurisdictional laws and agency policies, applicants with a history of domestic violence will be eliminated from consideration for employment unless there are compelling and documented reasons for further consideration.
- Newly hired community corrections agency employees will be provided copies of the agency’s policy on domestic violence.
- Employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility to seek confidential referrals and assistance from the agency to prevent problems from escalating to criminal abuse of their intimate partners. Agency supervisors will have available a list of possible referrals to assist employees with resolving problems that may lead to domestic violence.
- Supervisors will receive training about warning signs of domestic violence (e.g., generally aggressive behavior, control of an intimate partner, stalking, disparaging remarks about an intimate partner, deteriorating work performance, alcohol or drug abuse). If they recognize such behavior among their employees, or if such behavior is reported to them, they will address the behaviors directly with the employee, document all contacts, forward written reports to agency administrators, request needed services that may be available through the agency (e.g., counseling, psychological examination, employee assistance program), and provide referrals to applicable community services (e.g., a certified batterers program).
- If warning signs are noted by supervisors, or at the request of an employee, the agency will provide nonpunitive avenues of assistance before an act of domestic violence occurs.
- It is a violation of agency policy to misuse agency resources to commit an act of domestic violence, commit an act of domestic violence from or at the workplace or from any other location while on official agency business, or misuse job-related authority or resources to negatively affect victims, assist perpetrators in locating a victim, or assist perpetrators in committing an act of domestic violence.
- The agency will enter into agreements with law enforcement agencies in jurisdictions in which its employees work, live, or have reason to spend time to receive timely notification of a domestic violence incident involving a community corrections employee.
- The agency will periodically check available databases for arrests of and protection orders filed against community corrections agency employees. If such should be found, further investigation will be undertaken either internally or in conjunction with law enforcement.
- Supervisors will accept, document, and preserve reports of domestic violence by employees’ intimate partners, other family members, work colleagues or other identified or anonymous sources. Supervisors will address the behaviors directly with the employee, document all contacts, forward written reports to agency administrators, request needed services that may be available through the agency (e.g., counseling, psychological examination, employee assistance program), and provide referrals to applicable community services (e.g., a certified batterers program). If warranted, the reported behaviors also will be reported to law enforcement for criminal investigations.
- Employees will report to their supervisors any knowledge they have of abuse or violence perpetrated by work colleagues. They also will cooperate with any investigation related to their knowledge of employee-perpetrated domestic violence. Failure to report or cooperate with investigations will result in disciplinary actions. If employees fail to report knowledge of abuse by work colleagues because of a victim’s request for confidentiality and there were no other means of independently verifying the abuse, administrators or managers may consider the employee’s concern for victim safety issues in their disciplinary responses.
- If allegations of domestic violence involve both an employee-victim and an employee-perpetrator, supervisors will take immediate action to promote the safety of the alleged victim through strategies such as work reassignments, location reassignments, temporary layoffs, changes in work hours, and other similar adjustments. Supervisors will maintain documentation of any incidents perpetrated in the workplace and make that available, as needed, for evidence in prosecuting domestic violence cases.
- Community corrections employees arrested for or under investigation for domestic violence will report such incidences to their supervisors and provide notice of court dates, times, appearances, and proceedings. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary actions.
- Community corrections employees who are the subject of any protective order proceeding, whether or not the order is issued and regardless of jurisdiction, will immediately notify their supervisor and provide a copy of the order, if issued.
- Employees under investigation for the perpetration of domestic violence will not interfere with the investigation or intimidate or coerce witnesses or victims. Prohibited perpetrator-employee behavior includes surveillance, harassment, stalking, threatening, or making false allegations against victims or witnesses.
- If an investigation reveals that domestic violence occurred or any department policies were violated, administrative action will be taken independent of any criminal proceedings as soon as practicable. The agency will adhere to and observe all protocols to ensure an accused employee’s agency, union, and legal rights are upheld during the administrative and criminal investigations.
- If community corrections employees carry firearms and they are arrested for a domestic violence offense or are the subject of a protective order, they will relinquish those firearms or firearms permits in their possession (both agency-issued and personal weapons). This will be done in accordance with federal, state, and local jurisdiction statutes according to procedures in place by local law enforcement and/or community corrections agencies. Firearms will be deposited in safe storage until such time as the case is disposed.
- If there is credible evidence of employee-perpetrated domestic violence, community corrections employees will be relieved immediately from duties that involve the use of firearms, the supervision of domestic violence offenders, or other sensitive duties. If allegations of domestic violence are confirmed, supervisors will consider terminating the offender’s employment as possible, given agency personnel policies and union contracts.
- In the event the chief administrator of a community corrections agency perpetrates domestic violence, the deputy or next highest-ranking administrator of the agency will notify the district attorney and the individual in government who has direct oversight for the chief administrator (e.g., judge, county executive, oversight board).
- Intimate partner victims of employees of a community corrections agency will be afforded all the support and assistance (including assistance with safety planning) that is made available to other victims of domestic violence.
- If a court or releasing authority orders a former community corrections employee convicted of domestic violence to a period of community supervision, agency supervisors will assign responsibility for case management to an officer who previously has not been a colleague of the former employee and who is experienced in supervising domestic violence offenders. Such cases will be supervised in accordance with all agency policies and procedures for the supervision of domestic violence cases. If it is not possible to assign the case to an unbiased officer within the agency, administrators will request courtesy supervision by another community corrections agency through intra- or interstate arrangements.