Domestic violence permeates the lives and compromises the safety of thousands of
New York State employees each day, with tragic, destructive, and often fatal
results. Domestic violence occurs within a wide spectrum of relationships,
including married and formerly married couples, couples with children in common,
couples who live together or have lived together, gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender couples, and couples who are dating or who have dated in the past.
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive tactics which can include
physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse perpetrated by one
person against an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and
maintaining power and control over the victim. In addition to exacting a
tremendous toll from the individuals it directly affects, domestic violence
often spills over into the workplace, compromising the safety of both victims
and co-workers and resulting in lost productivity, increased health care costs,
increased absenteeism, and increased employee turnover.
Buffalo State, to the fullest extent possible without violating
any existing rules, regulations, statutory requirements, contractual obligations
or collective bargaining agreements, will take all appropriate actions to
promote safety in the workplace and respond effectively to the needs of victims
of domestic violence.
For purposes of this policy, the following terms will be defined as follows:
Domestic Violence: A pattern of coercive tactics, which can include
physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse, perpetrated by
one person against an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and
maintaining power and control over the victim.
Intimate Partner: Includes persons legally married to one another;
persons formerly married to one another; persons who have a child in common,
regardless of whether such persons are married or have lived together at any
time, couples who are in an intimate relationship, including but not limited to, couples who live together or have lived together, or persons who are
dating or who have dated in the past, including same sex couples.
Abuser: A person who perpetrates a pattern of coercive tactics which can
include physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and emotional abuse against
an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and maintaining power
and control over the victim.
Victim: The person against whom an abuser directs coercive and/or violent
- Employee Awareness
Buffalo State shall take all reasonable actions to educate
employees regarding the effects of domestic violence, ways to prevent and
curtail violence, and methods to report such violence to authorities.
It is the policy of Buffalo State that information on domestic
violence and available resources shall be posted and, if necessary, replaced
or reposted annually in areas where other employment policies and information
are traditionally posted. This information shall include the topics addressed
in the appendix.
- Non-Discriminatory and Responsive Personnel Policies for Victimized
Buffalo State shall ensure that personnel policies and
procedures do not discriminate against victims of domestic violence and are
responsive to the needs of victims of domestic violence.
- New York State law makes it a crime for employers to penalize an
employee who, as a victim or witness of a criminal offense, is appearing as
a witness, consulting with a district attorney, or exercising his/her rights
as provided in the Criminal Procedure Law, the Family Court Act, and the
Executive Law. This law requires employers, with prior day notification, to
allow time off for victims or subpoenaed witnesses to exercise his/her
rights as provided in the Criminal Procedure Law, the Family Court Act, and
the Executive Law [Penal Law §215.14]. If there are any questions or
concerns regarding the leave that must be granted to victims or subpoenaed
witnesses, contact Susan Earshen or Emmanuel Hillery in Human Resource
Management or the Attendance and Leave Unit at the Department of Civil
- Buffalo State, upon request, will assist the employee in
determining the best use of his/her attendance and leave benefits when an
employee needs to be absent as a result of being a victim of domestic
violence. If an employee requests time off to care for and/or assist a
family member who has been a victim of domestic violence, Buffalo State will evaluate the employee’s request for leave for eligibility
under existing law and collective bargaining agreements applicable to the
employee and the attendance rules.
- Buffalo State understands that victims of domestic
violence may lack the required documentation or have difficulty obtaining
the required documentation to justify absences without compromising their
safety. Therefore, Emmanuel Hillery, Associate Director of Human Resource
Management, (or Susan Earshen, Associate Vice President for Human Resource
Management) will consult with the employee to identify what documentation
she/he might have, or be able to obtain, that will not compromise his/her
safety-related needs and will satisfactorily meet the documentation
requirement of the employer. Because there are confidentiality issues
associated with the submission of documentation in these instances, Buffalo State may choose to consult with the Attendance and
Leave Unit at the Department of Civil Service when questions arise.
- Employees who are victims of domestic violence and who separate from a
spouse (or terminate a relationship with a domestic partner, if covered),
shall be allowed to make reasonable changes in benefits at any time during
the calendar year where possible, in accordance with statute, regulation,
contract and policy.
- New York State has established that victims of domestic violence are now
a protected class in the employment provisions of the NYS human rights law.
This law prevents an employer from firing or refusing to hire any individual
based on their status as a victim of domestic violence and prevents
discrimination in compensation or in the terms, conditions, or privileges of
employment. Buffalo State will not make inquiries about a job
applicant's current or past domestic violence victimization, and employment
decisions will not be based on any assumptions about or knowledge of such
- In cases in which it is identified that an employee's work performance
difficulties are a result of being a victim of domestic violence, said
employee shall be afforded all of the proactive measures outlined in this
policy, and shall be provided clear information about performance
expectations, priorities, and performance evaluation. If a disciplinary
process is initiated, special care will be taken to consider all aspects of
the victimized employee's situation. Buffalo State shall
utilize all reasonable available options to resolve work-related performance
problems, and may make a referral to the Employee Assistance Program,
consistent with existing collective bargaining unit agreements, statute,
regulations and agency policy.
- If reasonable measures have been taken to resolve domestic
violence-related work performance problems of victimized employees, but the
performance problems persist and the employee is terminated or voluntarily
separates from employment due to these domestic violence related issues, and
the employee conveys to Buffalo State that the separation is
due to these domestic violence issues, Buffalo State shall
inform the employee of his or her potential eligibility for unemployment
insurance and respond quickly to any requests for information that may be
needed in the claims process. New York State law provides that a victim of
domestic violence who voluntarily separates from employment may, under
certain circumstances, be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
[§593 of NYS Labor Law.]
Additional information may be found at
- Workplace Safety Plans
By means of a domestic violence workplace safety response plan, Buffalo State shall make employees aware of their options and available resources and
help employees safeguard each other and report domestic violence to designated
- The designated liaison between Buffalo State and SUNY System
Administration is Emmanuel J. Hillery, Associate Director of Human Resource
Management (in his absence, the liaison will be Susan Earshen, Associate Vice
President for Human Resource Management). This liaison will ensure campus- wide
implementation of this policy, and serve as the primary liaison with System
Administration regarding this policy. The System Administration designated
liaison will communicate with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
(OPDV) on behalf of campuses as it relates to reporting.
- Additionally, the following individuals/offices are designated as available
to support those in need of assistance concerning domestic violence: Renee M. Polniak, University Police Investigator 1, ext. 6333,
Chase Hall 110. (In Ms. Polniak’s absence, Raven Harvey, University Policy
Officer 1, ext. 6333, firstname.lastname@example.org, Chase Hall 110, will provide
- Buffalo State complies with enforcement of all known valid court
orders of protection that are brought to the attention of Buffalo State.
Buffalo State shall comply with Federal and State Law when information
is requested by domestic violence victims or law enforcement regarding an
alleged violation of an order of protection.
- Buffalo State maintains an emergency security response plan, which
includes procedures for contacting University Police and possibly other
appropriate law enforcement agencies, and which provides employees with clear
instructions about what to do and who to contact if they observe anyone engaging
in threatening behavior.
- Buffalo State will discuss with a known victim of domestic violence
the limitations on confidentiality under New York State Law (See Section VII
[h]; NYS Agencies Responsibility d – g).
- As part of an emergency security response plan, Buffalo State shall
take actions to assist in mitigating reoccurrence of domestic violence in an
effort to protect all employees including the victim. These actions may include,
but are not limited to, advising co-workers and, upon request, the employee's
bargaining representative, of the situation; setting up procedures for alerting
University Police; temporary relocation of the victim to a secure area; options
for voluntary transfer or permanent relocation to a new work site; change of
work schedule, reassignment of parking space; escort for entry to and exit from
the building; responding to telephone, fax, e-mail or mail harassment; and
keeping a photograph of the abuser and/or a copy of any existing court orders of
protection in a confidential on-site location and providing copies to University
Police. Buffalo State will address any additional concerns raised by a
situation in which both the victim and offender are employed by Buffalo State.
- This policy shall be reviewed annually. Any substantive policy revisions and
updates shall be forwarded to OPDV.
- Accountability for Employees Who Are Offenders
Buffalo State will hold employees accountable for engaging in
the following behavior: (1) using state resources to commit an act of domestic
violence; (2) committing an act of domestic violence from or at the workplace
or from any other location while on official state business; or (3) using
their job- related authority and/or state resources in order to negatively
affect victims and/or assist perpetrators in locating a victim and/or in
perpetrating an act of domestic violence.
- In cases in which Buffalo State has found that an employee
has threatened, harassed, or abused an intimate partner at the workplace using
state resources such as work time, workplace telephones, FAX machines, mail,
e-mail or other means, said employee may be subject to corrective or
disciplinary action in accordance with existing collective bargaining unit
agreements, statutes and regulations.
- In cases in which Buffalo State has verification that an
employee is responsible for a domestic violence-related offense, or is the
subject of any order of protection, including temporary, final or out-of-state
order, as a result of domestic violence, and said employee has job functions
that include the authority to take actions that directly impact victims of
domestic violence and/or actions that may protect abusers from appropriate
consequences for their behavior, Buffalo State shall determine
if corrective action is warranted, in accordance with existing collective
bargaining unit agreements, statutes and regulations.
- In cases in which any employee intentionally uses his/her job-related
authority and/or intentionally uses state resources in order to negatively
impact a victim of domestic violence, assist an abuser in locating a victim,
assist an abuser in perpetrating acts of domestic violence, or protect an
abuser from appropriate consequences for his behavior, said employee may be
subject to corrective or disciplinary action, in accordance with existing
collective bargaining unit agreements, statutes and regulations.
Pursuant to New York State and federal law, a person convicted of a domestic
violence-related crime or subject to an order of protection, under certain
circumstances, forfeits the right to legally possess a firearm or long gun.
Additionally, federal law contains prohibitions relating to shipping,
transportation, or receiving firearms or ammunition.
- In addition to complying with the law, employees who are authorized to
carry a firearm as part of their job responsibilities are required to notify
the Buffalo State if they are arrested on a domestic violence- related
offense and/or served with an order of protection. Under certain
circumstances, such employees are responsible for surrendering their firearms
to the firearm-issuing agency or to the appropriate police agency.
- Should an employee fail to comply with the requirements set forth in V.
a., said employee may be subject to corrective or disciplinary action, in
accordance with existing collective bargaining unit agreements, statute or
regulations. In addition, the appropriate law enforcement agency shall be
notified for possible criminal action.
The Buffalo State Designated Liaison to the Office for the
Prevention of Domestic Violence, Emmanuel Hillery (in his absence, Susan J.
Earshen), and all personnel designated to provide support for those in
need of assistance shall complete OPDV’s one-day training on Domestic Violence
and the Workplace. All appropriate managers, supervisors, employee assistance
professionals, human resources personnel, union and labor representatives and
security staff will be encouraged to attend OPDV’s training on Domestic
Violence and the Workplace. Additionally, Buffalo State shall
make available for staff training on domestic violence and its impact on the
workplace using materials provided by OPDV through the Buffalo State,
OPDV and/or a local domestic violence service provider when scheduling
Buffalo State Responsibility
While reported information is kept private to the greatest extent possible
by Federal law, State law, and Buffalo State policy, New York State
law includes clear limitations on legal confidentiality. Information reported
to anyone not in a position listed below may have to be disclosed pursuant to
a subpoena, where otherwise required by law or in accordance with Section VII,
paragraph g above. Such confidentiality exists in certain (but not all)
instances for certain medical personnel and counselors, social workers,
clergy, attorneys, and rape crisis counselors and may in fact be required to
be turned over in these cases through a subpoena or court order. Please note
that where medical information is received from an employee who is the victim
of domestic violence, such medical information shall be kept confidential to
the extent required by and permitted by New York State and Federal laws
including, but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
Family and Medical Leave Act, if they apply to the employee’s situation.
- Buffalo State believes that domestic violence is behavior
that cannot be tolerated and, to that end will, actively provide information
and support to employees who are victims of such abuse.
- Buffalo State will disseminate copies of this Domestic
Violence and the Workplace Policy to all employees upon implementation and
to all new employees upon hiring or appointment.
- Buffalo State encourages all employees to review and follow
this policy and the procedures set forth herein.
- Buffalo State will, consistent with applicable law and
Buffalo State policy, document all incidents of domestic violence that
happen in the workplace. Such documents should be provided to the designated
liaison to System Administration as soon as practicable. Such documents shall
be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law and Buffalo State
policy and the provisions of section g detailed below.
- All Buffalo State employees providing domestic violence
information and support services shall document, consistent with applicable
law and agency policy, the number of employees who report domestic violence,
the number of employees that request information/services, and the number of
referrals made to domestic violence service providers. All information about
employees who seek assistance shall be kept confidential to the extent
permitted by law and Buffalo State policy and the provisions of
section g detailed below, and documentation should not include any personal
information. The number of employees seeking assistance as outlined above
shall be reported to the designated liaison to System Administration.
- The designated liaison to System Administration shall, consistent with
applicable law and Buffalo State policy, provide information
about the number and general nature of domestic violence incidents that happen
in the workplace, the number of employees who report domestic violence, the
number of employees that request information/services, and the number of
referrals made to domestic violence service providers, with no personally
identifying information, to OPDV at the time and in a manner determined by
- Information related to an employee being a victim of domestic violence
shall be kept confidential, to the extent permitted by law and Buffalo State policy, and shall not be divulged without the written consent of the
victimized employee, unless the Buffalo State determines that
maintaining said confidentiality puts the victim or other employees at risk of
physical harm, is required by law, or is deemed necessary to enforce an order
of protection. In such circumstances where a determination has been made that
maintaining confidentiality puts the victim or other employees at risk of
physical harm, only those individuals deemed necessary by the Buffalo State to protect the safety of the victim and/or other employees or to
enforce an order of protection shall be given such information. Buffalo State shall disclose only the minimum amount of information
necessary to protect the safety of the victim and/or other employees or
enforce an order of protection. Where possible, Buffalo State
will provide to the victim of domestic violence notice of the intent to
provide information to other employees and/or safety personnel. Nothing herein
shall prevent Buffalo State from investigating an act or acts
of domestic violence occurring in the workplace. Some examples of situations
where confidentiality cannot be maintained include the following:
- Supervisors/managers may be informed about a domestic violence incident
that happens in the workplace, or a report of domestic violence, if it is
necessary to protect the safety of the employee or the employee’s co-workers.
- First aid and safety personnel may be informed about a domestic violence
incident that happens in the workplace or a report of domestic violence, if it
is necessary to protect the safety of the employee or the employee’s
- Government officials investigating a domestic violence incident that
occurs in the workplace, or a report of domestic violence, shall be provided
relevant information upon request and in accordance with legal requirements.
Information to be Included in Buffalo State Postings Regarding Domestic
Violence and the Workplace
At a minimum, the following information shall be provided to current employees
and new employees and included in posters posted in areas where employment
information is ordinarily posted:
Information regarding domestic violence and available resources in the work
site. Such information shall include available sources of assistance such as
Employee Assistance Program, local domestic violence service providers, the NYS
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault hotline, and/or human resources personnel
who are trained and available to serve as confidential sources of information,
support, and referral. Additionally, the posters may include information
regarding domestic violence programs located on the
NYS Office for the
Prevention of Domestic Violence website.
A statement informing employees that New York State law prohibits insurance
companies and health maintenance organizations from discriminating against
domestic violence victims or designation of domestic violence as a pre-existing
condition [§2612 of the Insurance Law].
Additionally, Buffalo State shall integrate information on domestic
violence and this domestic violence and the workplace policy into existing
materials and literature, policies, protocols, and procedures, including the
Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention Programs as appropriate.
Domestic Violence and the Workplace Policy: August 2008
1 12 NYCRR pt. 800.16 Public Employer
Workplace Violence Prevention Programs