All Public Employers Must Adopt a Domestic Violence Policy to Respond to Employees Experiencing Domestic Violence

All Public Employers Must Adopt a Domestic Violence Policy to Respond to Employees Experiencing Domestic Violence

Recently the Civil Service Commission published a Uniform Domestic Violence Policy for Public Employers pursuant to N.J.S.A. 11A:2-6a. Although promulgated by the Civil Service Commission, all public employers must adopt a form of this uniform policy and distribute to employees. There are critical obligations outlined for all public employers in this policy – including the obligation to designate a Human Resources Officer (“HRO”) to receive and address questions about domestic violence.

Every municipality must now designate an HRO and alternate HRO. Those individuals must receive training on responding to and assisting employees who are domestic violence victims. Managers and supervisors should also be trained because under the uniform policy, they are required to refer employees to the HRO if a subordinate is experiencing domestic violence.

The HRO has a list of obligations including, but not limited to, immediate response to employees and providing a safe, confidential location to discuss any matters, offering a confidential phone line, determining the need to call 911 or contact law enforcement, providing resource assistance, and even referrals to the Sexual Assault Response Team as appropriate.

Public employers must also now provide accommodations as needed to employees impacted by domestic violence and “develop an action plan to identify, respond to, and correct employee performance issues that are caused by domestic violence.”

Importantly, there are also confidentiality obligations of all involved in any domestic violence referral, including very limited dissemination of information and a separate, locked filing system for any documents.

It is critical for all public employers to become familiar with these new obligations, adopt an appropriate policy based on the uniform policy, and designate an HRO and alternate HRO.

More information and a copy of the uniform policy is located here: https://www.state.nj.us/csc/authorities/domestic_violence.html

If you find yourself challenged with questions regarding your Uniform Domestic Violence Policy, please do not hesitation to contact Laddey, Clark & Ryan’s Employment and Labor Practice Group: Thomas N. Ryan Esq. (tryan@lcrlaw.com), Ursula H. Leo, Esq. (uleo@lcrlaw.com), Jessica A. Jansyn, Esq. (jjansyn@lcrlaw.com), or Nicole C. Tracy, Esq. (ntracy@lcrlaw.com). Our attorneys can also be reached by phone at (973) 729-1880.