Agencies Must Provide Better Protection for Sexual Assault Victims, OPM Says

All federal agencies must in the coming months write or update their policies for responding to employees who have committed or been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, according to guidance from the Office of Personnel Management.

OPM’s memo comes after President Obama’s April 2012 guidance requiring the federal government to “act as a model in responding to the effects of domestic violence on its workforce.” Agencies must issue their specific policies within the next 120 days.

Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking cost the American workforce nearly $8 billion per year in lost productivity, health care costs and earnings, according to OPM. The danger extends from the home to the office, as nearly one-third of women killed in the workplace between 2003 and 2008 were slain by a current or former intimate partner.

OPM offered general guidelines for agencies to consider in their specific policies, including flexibilities for victims -- such as special leave options. The human resources agency said reporting an incident to authorities should not be a prerequisite for receiving these workplace flexibilities.

It also advised agencies on how to respond to perpetrators of these crimes, noting “there must be a proven nexus” between the misconduct and the employee’s ability to perform his job in order to take adverse action against the person. This nexus, however, can be proven through the “nature and gravity” of the misconduct.

The guidance emphasized the importance of Employee Assistance Programs to help victims and in planning building security. Federal agencies should train employees on the effects of domestic violence and sexual assault, OPM said.

Each agency should have its own “response team” to deal with incidents of sexual assaults that occur both in the workplace and outside it. The team should respect confidentiality and leave the employee to deal with the issue with a supervisor when possible.

The response teams should also be involved in a federal building’s safety plan, the memo said, which should strive to assist employees who feel threatened. The plan should include provisions such as providing pictures of perpetrators to security officers, changing an affected employee’s phone extension and designing well-lit hallways and parking lots.

OPM will assess each agency’s draft proposals and give the agency six additional months to make any changes.

Finally, OPM recommended agencies create a single point of contact on the issue in order to increase accountability. This employee should work with agency supervisors to monitor and evaluate its response to victims, including the issuance of an annual report on the issue.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.