Downey Legislation to Create Domestic Violence Policy for Public Employers Heads to Governor

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Legislation Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Arthur Barclay, Patricia Egan Jones, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt and Joann Downey sponsored to establish a protocol to support employees who are victims of domestic violence unanimously cleared the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the Governor's desk. The legislation was unanimously approved by the Assembly in May.

The bill (A-4124) would require the Civil Service Commission to develop a uniform domestic violence policy, which all public employers shall adopt and distribute to employees. The policy would encourage victims of domestic violence to seek confidential assistance from the human resources department at work.

"Sometimes work may be the only place someone in an abusive relationship can go without being under the close surveillance of his or her abuser," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "This legislation is about making sure employees know that the office can be a place of refuge during a time of need." 

Under the bill, the uniform domestic violence policy must include:
- a declaration encouraging employees who are victims of domestic violence to contact their human resources officer and seek assistance; 
- a confidential method for employees to report domestic violence incidents to human resources officers; 
- a confidentiality policy to which human resources officers receiving reports of domestic violence must adhere, unless a domestic violence incident poses an emergent danger to employees and the involvement of law enforcement is necessary; 
- a listing of available state and local resources, support services, treatment options, advocacy and legal services, medical and counseling services and law enforcement assistance services for domestic violence victims; 
- a requirement that an employee's records pertaining to a domestic violence incident or domestic violence counseling be kept separate from the employee's other personnel records; 
- an explanation of the requirements of the "New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act"; and 
- a requirement for the public employer to develop a plan to identify, respond to and correct employee performance issues that may be caused by a domestic violence incident.

The bill would require the Civil Service Commission to consult with human resources officers, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, social workers and other persons trained in counseling, crisis intervention or in the treatment of domestic violence victims to develop the policy.

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