Domestic Violence and the Workplace
The University at Buffalo will respond effectively to the needs
of victims of domestic violence and take appropriate actions to
keep employees safe from incidents related to domestic
The University at Buffalo (UB, university), will respond
effectively to the needs of victims of domestic violence and take
appropriate actions to keep employees safe from domestic violence
related incidents to the fullest extent possible without violating
any applicable rules, regulations, statutory requirements,
contractual obligations, or collective bargaining agreements. The
university will investigate an act or acts of domestic violence
occurring on the campus, whether or not an official complaint has
Representatives from University Police, Employee Assistance
Program (EAP), Employee Relations (ER), Equity, Diversity and
Inclusion (EDI), and State and Research Foundation (RF) Benefits
Administration, are available to support those in need of
assistance concerning domestic violence.
Domestic violence permeates the lives and compromises the safety
of thousands of adults and children each day, with tragic,
destructive, and often fatal results. Domestic violence occurs
within a wide spectrum of intimate and familial relationships
including married and formerly married couples; couples with
children in common; couples who are dating or have dated; gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples; couples who live
together or have lived together in the past; and people sharing a
household including children and elders.
In addition to exacting a tremendous toll on the individuals it
directly affects, domestic violence often spills over into the
workplace, compromising the safety of both victims and co-workers
resulting in lost productivity and increased health care costs,
absenteeism, and employee turnover.
New York State (NYS) 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
This policy applies to all university entities and
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.
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.
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. An intimate partner includes same sex
and transgender couples.
The person against whom an abuser
directs coercive and/or violent acts. This person is typically an
adult; however, domestic violence also affects many
Benefits Administration; University Police; Employee Assistance Program (EAP); Employee Relations (ER); Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
- Provide information and support to employees who are victims of
- Provide the following statistics (excluding personally
identifiable information) to Employee Relations (ER):
- the number of employees who report domestic violence
- the number of employees who request information/services
- the number of referrals made to domestic violence service
- Maintain confidentiality about employees who seek assistance,
to the extent permitted by law.
- Review and update this policy as necessary.
Human Resources – Benefits Administration
- Assist an employee in determining the best use of his/her
attendance and leave benefits when the employee must be absent as a
result of being a victim of domestic violence, including
unemployment benefits information, if appropriate.
- Evaluate an employee’s leave request to care for and/or
assist a family member who has been a victim of domestic violence
for eligibility under existing law, collective bargaining
agreements applicable to the employee, and attendance rules.
- Inform the employee of his/her potential eligibility for a
leave of absence and unemployment benefits, if appropriate. Respond
to requests for information regarding leave benefits.
- Disseminate this policy to new employees during new employee
orientation and make available to all employees on the university
Policy Library website.
- Provide all current and new employees with information on
domestic violence, including but not limited to:
- resources available in the workplace: Employee Assistance
Program (EAP); 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
- domestic violence programs located on the NYS OPDV website
- a statement informing employees that NYS 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
- Enforce all known valid court orders of protection (OP).
- Comply with federal and state law when information is requested
by domestic violence victims or law enforcement agencies regarding
an alleged violation of an order of protection (OP).
- Discuss the limitations on confidentiality under NYS law with
known victims of domestic violence.
Employee Relations (UB/SUNY Designated Liaison)
- Consult with the employee to identify the documentation he/she
might have or be able to obtain that will not compromise his/her
safety and will meet the documentation requirement of the
- Provide the employee’s supervisor with pertinent
information required to be shared.
- Document all incidents of domestic violence consistent with
applicable law and UB policy.
- Review this policy and forward substantive policy revisions and
updates to SUNY system-wide Affirmative Action Officer and the NYS
- Provide the following information, excluding personally
identifying information, to SUNY System Administration and the NYS
- number and general nature of domestic violence incidents that
happen in the workplace
- number of employees who report domestic violence
- number of employees who request information/services
- number of referrals made to domestic violence service
- Contact Employee Relations (ER) with questions regarding leave
that must be granted to victims or subpoenaed witnesses.
- Notify University Police of all valid court orders of
protection (OP) including any updates.
The university will educate employees regarding the effects of
domestic violence, ways to prevent and curtail violence, and
methods to report such violence to authorities.
Information on domestic violence and available resources will be
posted and, if necessary replaced or reposted annually, in areas
where other employment policies and information are traditionally
- The university includes information on domestic violence
awareness and services in written materials provided to new
employees and as part of new employee orientation.
- The university advises employees that NYS law prohibits
insurance companies and health maintenance organizations from
discriminating against domestic violence victims. The law prohibits
designation of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. An
insurance company cannot deny or cancel an insurance policy or
require a higher premium or payment because the insured is or has
been a domestic violence victim. [§2612 of the Insurance
- The university integrates information on domestic violence and
the company's domestic violence and the workplace policy into
existing materials and literature, policies, protocols, and
procedures, as appropriate.
- The university may conduct domestic violence awareness
activities such as "brown bag" lunch programs and other health and
Non-Discriminatory Guidelines for Victimized Employees
The university will be responsive to the needs of victims of
domestic violence to the fullest extent possible while ensuring
that personnel policies and procedures do not discriminate against
victims of domestic violence.
- NYS 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 (Penal Law §215.14).
This law requires employers, with prior day notification, to allow
time off for victims or subpoenaed witnesses to exercise their
- The university, 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, the university will evaluate the employee’s request
for leave for eligibility under existing law, collective bargaining
agreements applicable to the employee, and attendance rules.
- The university 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, Employee Relations (ER) will consult with
the employee to identify the documentation he/she 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 is an issue of confidentiality
associated with the submission of documentation in these instances,
the university 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), will be allowed to make reasonable changes in benefits
at any time during the calendar year, in accordance with statute,
regulation, contract, and policy.
- The university 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 exposure.
- If it is determined that an employee's work performance
difficulties are the result of domestic violence, the university
will utilize all reasonable options to resolve work-related
performance problems consistent with applicable collective
bargaining unit agreements, regulations, statute, and policy, and
may make a referral to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- If determined to be in the best interest of the employee to
take a leave of absence, Human Resources will inform the employee
of his/her potential eligibility for unemployment insurance and
respond to requests for information needed in the claims
Workplace Safety Plans
In accordance with applicable policies and procedures, UB
- make employees aware of their options and available
- help employees safeguard each other
- encourage employees report domestic violence to designated
Employee Relations (ER) and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
(EDI) are the designated liaisons between the University and State
University of New York (SUNY) System Administration and the NYS
Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV).
UB maintains emergency response procedures for contacting
University Police and other law enforcement agencies when
appropriate, and provides employees with clear instruction on the
steps to take if employees observe anyone engaging in threatening
University Police will discuss the limitations on
confidentiality under NYS law with victims of domestic
To protect all employees, including the victim, the university
will take actions to assist in mitigating the occurrence of
domestic violence in the workplace. Assistance may include,
but is not limited to:
- advising co-workers and others (including union
representatives, as applicable) of a situation, on a need-to-know
- establishing procedures for alerting University Police
- temporarily relocating the victim to a secure area
- providing options for voluntary transfer or permanent
relocation to a new work site and/or escort for entry to and exit
from the building
- permitting a change of work schedule and assignment of a
- responding to telephone, fax, email, or mail harassment
- keeping a photograph of the abuser and/or a copy of any
existing court orders of protection (OP) in a confidential on-site
A representative from one or more of the responsible university
departments (Employee Relations (ER), University Police, Employee
Assistance Program (EAP), or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI))
will collaborate as necessary and work with the employee to develop
a plan to ensure the safest possible work environment for the
employee and the rest of the staff. With the permission of the
employee, this may include implementing actions to mitigate the
occurrence of domestic violence as follows:
- providing a copy of the order of protection (OP) and/or photo
of perpetrator to security or front desk personnel
- discussing who should be told if there is no security or front
desk staff, such as a supervisor/colleague who is able to assist
with identifying the perpetrator
- blocking the subject perpetrator of the order of protection
(OP) from being entered into the visitor management system, if
- implementing the actions to mitigate the occurrence of domestic
violence in the workplace bulleted above
- creating a personal workplace safety plan.
The university will comply and assist with enforcement of all
known court orders of protection (OP), particularly orders in which
abusers have been ordered to stay away from the work site. If
requested by the victim of domestic violence or law enforcement,
the university will provide information in its possession
concerning an alleged violation of an order of protection (OP).
Employees are encouraged to bring their orders of protection (OP)
to the attention of the University Police Department, Bissell Hall,
Buffalo, NY 14260, Tel. (716) 645-2222. Once the order of
protection (OP) has been brought forward, the document will be kept
on file at the University Police Department. The employee is
responsible for notifying University Police of any changes to the
order of protection (OP).
The university will address any additional concerns raised by a
situation in which both the victim and offender are employed at the
Confidentiality of Information
Information related to an employee being a victim of domestic
violence will be kept confidential except when dictated by law, UB
policy, or when necessary to protect the safety of individuals.
- Reported information is kept private to the extent possible by
federal and state law, and university policy, however NYS law
includes clear limitations on legal confidentiality.
- Confidentiality exists in certain instances for medical
personnel, counselors, social workers, clergy, attorneys, and rape
crisis counselors, but information may be required to be released
through a subpoena or court order.
- Information reported to anyone not in one of the above named
positions may have to be disclosed where otherwise required by law
or pursuant to a subpoena.
- When medical information is received from an employee who is
the victim of domestic violence, such medical information will be
kept confidential to the extent permitted and required by law
including, but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act
and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- When it is determined that maintaining confidentiality puts the
victim or other employees at risk of physical harm, those
individuals deemed necessary to protect the safety of the victim
and other employees, or to enforce an order of protection (OP),
will be given the minimum amount of information required. Where
possible, the university will provide the victim of domestic
violence with notice of the intent to provide information to other
employees and/or safety personnel.
- Some examples of situations where confidentiality cannot be
- government officials investigating a report of domestic
violence or incident that occurred in the workplace will be
provided relevant information in accordance with legal requirements
- supervisors, managers, and first responders may be informed
about a report of domestic violence or incident that occurs in the
workplace, if it is necessary to protect the safety of the employee
or the employee’s co-workers.
Accountability for Employees Who Are Offenders
Employees may be subject to corrective or disciplinary action in
accordance with collective bargaining agreements, statutes, and
regulations in the following situations:
- an employee has threatened, harassed, or abused an intimate
partner using university resources such as work time, workplace
telephones, fax machines, mail, email, or other means
- an employee intentionally uses his/her job-related authority
and/or university 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
- protect an abuser from appropriate consequences of their
- an employee whose job functions include the authority to take
actions that directly impact victims of domestic violence, who act
inappropriately or abuse their authority.
Pursuant to NYS penal law, it is illegal for anyone to carry
firearms on campus except for police officers. Additionally,
federal law includes prohibitions relating to shipping,
transporting, or receiving firearms or ammunition.
University police officers (the only employees authorized to
carry a firearm as part of their job responsibilities) must notify
the campus Chief of Police or designee if they are arrested on a
domestic violence-related offense and/or served with an order of
protection (OP). Under certain circumstances, such police officers
are responsible for surrendering their issued firearms.
Should such a police officer fail to comply with these
requirements, he/she may be subject to corrective or disciplinary
action in accordance with existing collective bargaining unit
agreements, statute, or regulations. In addition, law enforcement
will review for possible criminal action.
All personnel designated to provide support for victims of
domestic violence (University Police, Employee Assistance Program
(EAP), Employee Relations (ER), and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
(EDI)) will complete training related to domestic violence.
Additionally, the university will make available to staff, training
materials and/or sessions on domestic violence and its impact on
120 Crofts Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-7022
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
156 Parker Hall and 109 HRD
Buffalo, NY 14214-8004
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
406 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
||Updated to clarify the following sections: Employee Awareness, Non-Discriminatory Guidelines for Victimized Employees, Workplace Safety Plans, and Firearms.
||Updated Office of Equity, Diversity and Affirmative Action (EDAAA) department name to reflect the current name of Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).
||Updated to add information regarding the NYS Human Rights Law to the policy background.