Domestic Violence is Everyone’s Business: Just Perhaps Not The State of Nevada’s Business?

Domestic violence costs $8.3 billion in expenses annually: a combination of higher medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion).” [Forbes]

In the same year this quotation appeared in Forbes magazine, the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reported 58,582 contacts concerning  domestic violence in the state. 37,439 of them were first time contacts, another 13,670 were “repeats,” and there were 7,473 follow up contacts. [FY2012-13 pdf]  In the next annual report there were a total of 61,229 contacts; 38,042 initial, 15,165 repeats, and 8,022 follow ups. [FY 2013-2014 pdf]  The calendar year report for 2014 shows  a total of 65,026 contacts, 40,927 first time, 15,534 repeats, and 8,565 follow ups. [CYR 2014 pdf]

DV victims total We also know that in calendar year 2014 the primary victims were most often women (38,145) as contrasted to men (2,782).  We can also infer from the numbers that they are in the age range 18-64, or during the years in which they are most likely to be employed.

Indeed, some 9,119 of the primary victims were someone’s full time or part time employee.  Perhaps what we can’t know is how many of those in the unemployed category were women who were isolated in abusive domestic

DV victims employment statussituations where they were forbidden to work outside the home, or in some instances to have only very tenuous contacts with those outside the house.

What we can know, and do, is that in national terms we are losing an estimated $2.5 Billion annually in lost productivity costs. Domestic violence contributes to lost wages and reduced earnings, it impeded  the victim’s job advancement, and compromises safety for the employees and their co-workers. [BBoston]   That $2.5 billion also includes time lost as the victims miss work, arrive late or have to leave work early to care for themselves or other family members.

A Fall 2000 report for the State Attorney General’s office (pdf)  outlines recommendations for employers to mitigate the effects of domestic violence: (1) condition perpetrators’ continuing employment on remaining non-violent; (2) intervene against stalkers in the workplace; (3) safeguard battered employees’ employment and careers by providing flexible schedules, leaves of absence, and establishing enlightened personnel policies; (4) provide employment security to battered employees; (5) provide available resources to support and advocate for battered employees.

A follow up report “Nevada Domestic Violence Prevention Council Domestic Violence and the Workplace:  A Toolkit for Employers,” (pdf) was issued by former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.  This document links to the Workplaces Respond (to domestic and sexual violence) model policy guidelines to implement the recommendations set forth in the 2000 report.   The model policy guidelines would work well for moderate to large sized businesses, what isn’t clear is how many employers in Nevada have  clearly stated and implemented domestic violence prevention and mitigation policies in their personnel manuals. For that matter, it’s difficult to determine precisely what the state is doing – assuming that the state should function as as example for other entities to follow.

Let’s look at the  the model policy and compare it to the State Personnel Manual.  The Model Policy includes the following:

“[Employer] recognizes that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence may need time off to obtain or attempt to obtain a restraining order or any other legal assistance to help ensure his or her health, safety, or welfare or that of his or her child. [Employer] will work in collaboration with the employee to provide reasonable and flexible leave options when an employee or his or her child is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and/or stalking. [Employer] will work with employee to provide paid leave first before requiring an employee to utilize unpaid leave.”  [Model Policy]

Here’s an exercise. (1) Download the State of Nevada’s Employee Handbook. (pdf)  (2) Type <Cntrl F>  (3) Type “Domestic” in the inquiry box.”  If you don’t want to do this yourself then you’ll have to trust that I found 5 instances of the term “domestic” anywhere in the document.  The first concerns insurance benefits, the second concerns domestic partner benefits, the third concerns survivor benefits, the fourth is in the same paragraph as the third, and the fifth finally gets around to the issue at hand:

“ The personal safety and health of each employee is of primary importance. It is the responsibility of all employees to support safety and health programs by reporting any threats received or restraining orders granted against a disgruntled spouse, domestic partner, acquaintance, or others. You must report all incidents of direct or indirect threats and actual violent events to a supervisor, and the matter will be treated seriously. A direct or indirect threat and/or actual violence will be documented and reported to both the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Administration, Risk Management Division using the report form found on their website http://risk.nv.gov/LP/WV/. All incidents will be immediately investigated and appropriate action taken. (NAC 284.646-284.650)”

The link takes you to the Risk Management site.  In short, the Nevada policy manual for employees addresses workplace violence, but not necessarily violence which takes place “off campus.”  Yes, workplace violence should be taken seriously. Yes, domestic violence all too often translates to workplace violence; but NO the State of Nevada has not adopted personnel guidelines which would put a dent in those lost productivity, lost career advancement, lost earnings and wages columns that plague other institutions?

Comparing the Model Policy with the State Employee Handbook, the Model Policy calls for collaborative efforts to assist a victim of domestic violence get a restraining order or legal assistance.  The victim should give the employer a reasonable amount of time to juggle schedules or fill in when calling in, and the employer should make every effort to secure the legal protections which may be necessary.

The State Handbook does address what happens after the battery.

“If you are a full-time employee, you earn 10 hours (1¼ working days) of sick leave for each month of full-time service. Part-time employees earn a prorated amount based on full-time equivalent service. Sick leave can be used as soon as it is accrued. (NRS 284.355, NAC 284.113, 284.5415) You may only use sick leave for authorized reasons. Authorized reasons for using sick leave are: an inability to work because of illness or injury, incapacity due to pregnancy or childbirth, medical and dental appointments, family illness (subject to some limitations), and death in the immediate family.”

Apparently, about as close as the state gets to addressing the needs of a battered person to secure legal or technical assistance, is:

“An employee does not need to use this leave entitlement in one block. Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis.”  (emphasis added)

If we put this all together we have a situation in which (1) Nevada obviously has issues regarding domestic violence in the State; (2) Domestic violence has ramifications beyond the medical and legal costs associated with it and has an impact on earning power, career advancement, and productivity; (3) Nevada has at least two publications endorsing and promoting positive measures employers may take to reduce the medical, legal, and economic impact of domestic violence; and (4) Nevada doesn’t include policies designed to assist victims of domestic violence in its own Personnel Manual.

What’s wrong with this picture?

References: Weller, “Covering Domestic Violence: A Guide for Informed Media Reporting in Nevada, (pdf)  State of Nevada Employee Handbook, Department of Administration, Division of Human Resource Management, (pdf)  National Resource Center – Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence, Model Workplace Policy.   Catherine Cortez Masto, AttyGen, “Nevada Domestic Violence Prevention Council Domestic Violence and the Workplace: A Toolkit for Employers.” (pdf) Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence: Statewide Statistics FY July 2013-June 2014. (pdf) NNADV Calendar Year Report Jan.-Dec. 2014 (pdf) NNADV. org general resources and web site; statistics.

1 Comment

Filed under domestic abuse, Economy, Nevada, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Women's Issues

One response to “Domestic Violence is Everyone’s Business: Just Perhaps Not The State of Nevada’s Business?

  1. I’d guess there is also considerable impact on the quality of work. The battered person may be somewhat distracted — to put it mildly — and be unable to concentrate as well as the person ordinarily would. Memories like that, or flashbacks, could fill the person’s consciousness so there would be no room for work.

    On the other hand, I can see some employees responding to a boss’ orders, entirely unwittingly, as if he were her batterer, and being overly cautious, overly worried about making mistakes, afraid to voice her own opinion. (In fact, were I to be a supervisor and had an employee act that way towards me, I’d think it worthwhile to look for other signs of battering.)