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NNEDV Announces Recommendations from Economic Justice and Domestic Violence Advisory Council

February 14, 2022

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is pleased to announce the recommendations from our Economic Justice and Domestic Violence Advisory Council (“the Council”). The Council was made possible through generous funding from NNEDV’s longtime partners at The Allstate Foundation and NNEDV was honored to convene this group of experts. Read the full recommendations here.

The goal of the Council is a long-term, in-depth collaboration of national experts in the domestic violence field working to advance survivors’ economic empowerment and financial well-being. NNEDV virtually gathered those working at the intersection of domestic violence and economic justice to identify gaps and strategize ways to expand awareness and solutions through recommendations. Ultimately, the Council aims to inform program design and identify public policy solutions, in addition to highlighting resource gaps and emerging issues.

After initially gathering in 2020, the Council’s theme for its 2021 work was: Workplace Protections: At Home & Away in 2021. The Council concentrated on developing recommendations around three primary areas under this topic: Employer Policies, Employer/Advocate Partnerships, and Public Policy Reforms. The Council’s recommendations are summarized below, and you can find them in full here:

Employer Policies

Recommendation: All employers should have a workplace policy specifically addressing intimate partner violence.

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey revealed that 16% of organizations have experienced domestic violence incidents at the workplace in the past five years; 19% of those had an issue within the last year. For many victims of domestic violence, maintaining employment is critical to economic independence from a harm-doer; however, the domestic violence itself can interfere with work productivity, attention, and retention of survivors and perpetrators who are employees, customers, or otherwise present in a workplace.

Ensuring victims have access to a safe and secure workplace is critical to their economic and physical safety. The same can be said for employees who are not safe from abusers, since harm-doers’ impact and actual behavior often extends well beyond the home and can impact the workplace. 

Employer/Advocate Partnerships

Recommendation: Local domestic violence programs and advocates should receive training in IPV and workplace safety to become their community expert and work in partnership with local employers.

There are over 2,000 local domestic violence programs across the county, many of which operate in cities and towns with major community employers. Mass shootings, including those at the workplace, can often be connected to incidents of domestic violence. Advocates are in a unique position to help employers make the connection between employee safety at home and health and welfare of their entire workforce.

Public Policy Reforms

Survivors often experience discrimination and harassment based on their status as survivors. This should be prohibited in federal law and policy. While there are some anti-discrimination protections for survivors, the protections do not reach all survivors. We also acknowledge there is no single law, policy or procedure that will singlehandedly create safety for all victims of IPV.

However, we believe the following policy reforms will provide added protections and resources and significantly raise the profile of victim safety and perpetrator accountability within the context of workplace safety.

Recommendation: Federalize eligibility for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

Although 42 states and the District of Columbia recognize that, at minimum, when domestic violence survivors need to leave employment, they have demonstrated good cause for doing so, the current unemployment system, fraught with delays and inconsistency, needs to be overhauled to ensure that survivors who need benefits on an emergent basis can receive them expeditiously. 

Recommendation: Pass paid sick and safe leave laws.

Allowing all victims and survivors to take paid leave to seek protections, meet with advocates or therapists, file or attend legal proceedings, relocate, or just recover emotionally and/or physically, must be enshrined in federal laws for all workers, reflecting that personal safety should be a basic employment protection upholding this human right. Survivors must be able to pursue physical and emotional safety, in whatever form, without risking their job or income.

Recommendation: Support efforts to create and expand unions.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, unions have proven to provide women with higher wages and better benefits, often regardless of their race or ethnicity. The gender wage gap is significantly smaller among Black unionized workers that their nonunion counterparts. In addition, access to a protected living wage and benefits can significantly help victims and survivors to get and stay safe. The ability to unionize is particularly important in industries, such as domestic and farm workers, who often lack labor protections. This Council is recommending eliminating barriers that have prevented union organizing and the formation and reach of unions.

Recommendation: Provide additional protections for employees subject to at-will employment.

‘Just Cause’ Job Protections, a research report produced by National Employment Law Project (NELP), reported that 47% of workers were fired without warning or for good cause at some point, with Latinx (52%) and Black (50%) workers reporting even higher rates of unfair firings. Additionally, 31% of women said that fear of retaliation might prevent them from reporting workplace sexual harassment.

More protections must exist to provide employees additional rights and protections to counterbalance the impact on survivors and their families, while also ensuring that such protections do not unduly limit employers’ ability to address certain kinds of serious misconduct, such as behavior that threatens the safety and well-being of others, to ensure safe workplaces free of harassment.

Access to safe and reliable employment is critical to survivors’ long-term security and simultaneously good for businesses and communities. The Council supports the above recommendations and will work to advance them at every appropriate opportunity.

NNEDV is committed to lifting up our partners working at this intersection and our shared goal to end gender-based violence where it exists. Find the full recommendations here and contact us here if your organization is interested in getting involved and making a difference.

Thank you to the Economic Justice and Domestic Violence Advisory Council members for your time, energy, and commitment to this important work: