Domestic violence impacts one in three women and one in four men in America. Since a majority of women are part of the workforce, it’s important that the business community acknowledge that October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month. At Smith + Malek, we aim to do our part to elevate organizations and resources that prevent domestic violence and support those who have survived it.
In our journey to build a supportive workplace that helps survivors of domestic violence heal and move forward in their lives, we’ve created a policy, which is standard in Washington State, to support our employees. We hope our clients and colleagues will consider implementing a similar policy, even though Idaho law doesn’t require it.
Mirroring what’s required in Washington, our policy provides reasonable accomodations for employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. We also prohibit any discriminatory or retaliatory behavior against survivors of domestic violence. Employees who are victims of domestic violence, or who have qualifying family members who are victims, can access unpaid leave so they can seek treatment and assistance connected to domestic violence.
When defining the terms of your own policy, it’s helpful to examine how Washington State law defines accommodations for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may include, but are not limited to:
- Transfer or reassignment;
- Modifying job schedule;
- Change in work telephone number, email address, or workstation;
- Installing locks;
- Implementing safety procedures; or
- Any other adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirementin response to an actual or threatened act of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Small Business Guidelines for Implementing a Domestic Violence Policy
We recommend having a point of contact whom an employee can go to and discuss any needed accommodations. At Smith + Malek, affected employees are encouraged to contact our Firm Administrator. Employees may be required to provide documentation verifying that they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This requirement may be satisfied by providing documents such as a police report, court order, or written statement.
After we receive a request for a safety accommodation, Smith + Malek will work with the employee to explore potential accommodations. We encourage the employee to suggest specific accommodations that they believe would be most effective.
As an employer, you may suggest and provide an alternative accommodation that can be made without imposing an undue hardship on your business.
Creating Safer Workplaces With a Domestic Violence Policy
At Smith + Malek, we’re committed to creating a safe workplace for all employees, including anyone who has experienced domestic violence. Please contact us with any questions in regards to our domestic violence policy, or how to implement one of your own that meets or exceeds your state’s requirements.