Domestic Violence and the Workplace
Domestic Violence Liaison Program
The Domestic Violence Liaison Program is an initiative of the Department of Human Resources and the Department on the Status of Women to provide city employees with domestic violence prevention and intervention resources. Liaisons are city employees who volunteer to receive specialized training on intimate partner violence to aid co-workers who need extra assistance in the workplace due to domestic violence. Liaisons are available for private discussions about domestic violence related incidents, or to help individuals navigate their rights in the workplace, such as time-off, safety planning, and counseling.
Here is a complete list of all Domestic Violence Liaisons, their departments, and their contact information. If you are an employee of the City and County of San Francisco, the liaisons are available for support or resources when you or a coworker are experiencing domestic violence. You can contact a Domestic Violence Liaison from any department, regardless of your department.
If you cannot reach someone right away and need immediate assistance, you may also contact:
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (800) 795-2351;
The confidential domestic violence hotline run by W.O.M.A.N. Inc. at (415) 864-4722;
If there is an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of others, contact 911.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse in which one partner in an intimate relationship attempts to take power and control over another. Domestic violence can occur in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.
What is a Domestic Violence Liaison?
Domestic Violence Liaisons are city employees with specialized training on intimate partner violence. They are sensitive, discreet, and approachable individuals who are available for private discussions and knowledgeable about workplace rights for co-workers struggling with domestic violence. Employees who are interested in supporting co-workers experiencing domestic violence can volunteer to become a Domestic Violence Liaison. The Department on the Status of Women will be offering two half-day trainings in the fall for persons who have been approved to be Domestic Violence Liaisons. Domestic Violence Liaisons serve as a safe space at work for colleagues to discuss domestic violence and get referrals to resources.
How prevalent is domestic violence?
In the United States, 21 percent of full time employees self-identify as victims of domestic violence. Of these employees, 64 percent of domestic violence survivors reported that their ability to work was affected by violence (Group SJR, National Telephone Benchmarking Survey, 2005). In San Francisco alone, the Legislative Analyst estimates that over 1,300 city employees experience domestic violence each year (The San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst, Project 20121016-006, 2012).
Why should employers care about domestic violence?
Domestic violence can happen outside the work place, but follow the survivor into the work environment. The Legislative Analyst estimates that city employees struggling with domestic violence result in an annual cost to San Francisco of $6,186,048, with $2.4 million lost for medical and mental health services and $2.4 million in lost productivity due to absenteeism (The San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst, Project 20121016-006, 2012). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lost productivity due to domestic violence costs about $1.8 billion nationwide. The workplace can be a very vulnerable place for survivors, but also a powerful source of support and a place to access resources.
What are my rights in the workplace?
Employees can take time off for court proceedings, or for services related to the abuse: medical, counseling, domestic violence or rape crisis agency services, safety planning, relocation, or to obtain a restraining order. For more information on resources in San Francisco, consult the Domestic Violence and the Workplace Brochure.
You cannot be fired or retaliated against because you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if you talk to your employer about your situation.
You have the right to reasonable accommodations at work for safety needs, such as a new work phone number, a transfer, or a different schedule if you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and if you talk to your employer about your situation.
If you lose or need to quit your job to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you are entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
For more resources and information on you rights in the workplace, consult the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center.
How do I become a Domestic Violence Liaison?
Recruitment for the Domestic Violence Liaison program takes place once a year during the summer. A city-wide email will circulate with guidelines and a link to the application as the application window approaches. If you wish to apply for a position as a Domestic Violence Liaison, look out for this email.
If you need more information about the Domestic Violence Liaison Program, contact Women’s Policy Director Minouche Kandel at firstname.lastname@example.org.