Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Public Awareness

OPDV Press Releases

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Contact: Suzanne Cecala, Press Office NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (518) 457-5744

For immediate release: October 21, 2008

Under Governor Paterson’s Leadership, State Agencies Enhance Economic Security for Domestic Violence Victims in the State Workforce

Officials from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) today announced that all New York state agencies have adopted comprehensive “Domestic Violence and the Workplace” policies that address the significant health and safety issues associated with domestic violence.

This cost-neutral initiative is in alignment with Governor David A. Paterson’s emphasis on supporting the most vulnerable New Yorkers, especially in this time of fiscal uncertainty.

“Designing policies to help protect all of our state workforce from domestic violence is a basic but critical action that I am proud we have undertaken,” said Governor Paterson. “I whole-heartedly support this common-sense step that New York State has taken to increase the safety and well-being of its employees. I’m gratified that New York State, as an employer, can be a model for all businesses in the State.”

Standing in the Capitol with commissioners from many of the state agencies that oversee the economic and employment aspects of the state workforce, OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch said the policies provide economic security for domestic violence victims by helping them keep their jobs at the same time as they help them to get and stay safe.

“We are pleased by the energy and dedication our State agency colleagues showed in working with us on this important initiative,” said Director Barasch. “Especially in times of economic uncertainty, it is essential that we work together to support victims of domestic violence andI am proud that New York State is showing such leadership on this issue.”

OPDV has worked with all state agencies to issue policies that include training of employees on domestic violence awareness and prevention; personnel procedures that respond to the needs of domestic violence victims; creation of workplace safety plans; and measures to hold accountable those who may use state resources to commit acts of domestic violence. The policies are designed to provide a safer workplace environment for victims of domestic violence and their co-workers; increase employee productivity, reduce absenteeism and improve employee retention; lower health care costs; and lessen the potential for legal liability. State officials hope that by taking the lead on this issue, private businesses will follow. OPDV has model policies available for any business interested in pursuing this initiative.

The Governor's Office of Employee Relations (GOER), which oversees the State's Employee Assistance Program (EAP), was an integral part of the successful execution of this project. GOER Director Gary Johnson said, "It is critical the State does everything it can to ensure a safe and secure workplace. We are proud to partner with OPDV to help achieve that end – by adopting agency domestic violence and the workplace policies, and by assisting the victims of domestic workplace violence through our statewide EAP program, along with other technical support that our office provides to state agencies."

David A. Hansell, commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), said, "Our agency is doing everything we can to support Governor Paterson's commitment to increasing the economic security of the low-income families of our state. Ouremployeesmake that possible, and we are equally committed to keeping them safe, so they can remainin their jobs andproductive."

State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said, “In many cases when victims of domestic violence leave their homes, the only place they feel safe is at their place of work. This Executive Order creates an environment in state government where workers can receive help with domestic violence issues in a safe, confidential manner. This is most definitely a model that other state governments will work to replicate.”

KC Wagner, Director of Workplace Issues at Cornell University’s ILR School said, “New York State’s rapid implementation of the executive order for state agencies and as a model for the private sector is pro-active, it’s common sense and it makes business sense. Our state is a leader in setting the bar high.”

The bargaining units representing the nearly 200,000 state employees assisted with the model policy. Arlea Igoe, Secretary-Treasurer of the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) said,“The NYS Public Employees Federation was very pleased to participate, along with sister unions, in the workgroup that developed Executive Order 19, establishing programs for the prevention of domestic violence in all state agency worksites. We would like to congratulate Amy Barasch and OPDV for its leadership and support in these important efforts.”

OPDV distributed the Model Domestic Violence and the Workplace Policy to all state agencies. Since March, trainings on implementation have been received by nearly 600 human resources professionals as well as the majority of Employee Assistance Program Coordinators.

A 2005 national telephone survey by The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence found that 21 percent of full-time employed adults were victims of domestic violence and 64 percent of them indicated their work performance was significantly affected due to domestic violence.

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) is a state agency charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive level staff on policy and legislation and conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs. OPDV trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement, local district social service providers, and health care professionals.