One of the roles that I relish is being a member of the American Bar Assocation’s House of Delegates for several terms now. The ABA adopts certain policies at its Annual Meeting and uses its bully-pulpit to try to get such policies enacted at the federal, state or local level.At this year’s meeting, which took place in Boston over the last few days, the House considered Resolution 112A. The resolution itself is fairly short but stated the following:
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association adopts the Model Workplace Policy on Employer Responses to Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking (“Model Policy”), dated August 2014.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages all employers, public and private, including governments, law schools and the legal profession, to enact formal policies on the workplace responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking violence which address prevention and remedies, provide assistance to employees who experience violence, and which hold accountable employees who perpetrate violence.
In plain English, the ABA adopted a Model Workplace Policy that has been developed by several groups for use in workplaces. You can find it here.
So why should employers care? Well, for one, Connecticut already has a law that requires all employers to provide for domestic violence leave. Adopting a policy like the type advocated by the ABA, can help achieve compliance with that law and also further the employer’s interests of making sure employees return to work quickly and are productive while theer.
Is the policy required? No. And there is no civil liability that is attached to either having or not having the policy. But an employer who does adopt it can illustrate that it takes the issues of domestic violence seriously and will encourage employees who are going through the process to speak up. As noted in the materials attached to the resolution, researchers have determined that victimization rates in the workplace are actually higher than in the general population.
The policy itself is long and can certainly be modified to fit a particular employer. I would not advocate a wholesale adoption of it, particularly if employers cannot meet all of its particulars — whether through staff size or other conditions. Small employers in particular may have different needs as well. And notably, Connecticut employers should consider this in conjunction with any policy on domestic violence leave.
But the model policy is an important step in raising awareness of the issue to employers and I applaud the ABA for being a leader in this area.
If you’re interested in the policy itself, again you can find it at the third page of this link.