Today, Governor Kathy Hochul expanded New York State’s approach to preventing gender-based violence, stalking, and sexual assault in the workplace by adopting many of Inspector General Lucy Lang’s recommendations issued earlier this morning at the New York State Crime Victims Memorial.
The new Executive Order, signed today by Governor Hochul, and effective immediately, will modernize the state’s workplace policies, procedures, and trainings, resulting in a safer environment for all employees, ensuring that responses to domestic violence is survivor-centered, trauma-informed and culturally responsive.
“Every employee of New York State deserves to feel safe in their workplace,” said Inspector General Lucy Lang. “I am thrilled by Governor Hochul’s decisive action to make New York a national leader in addressing and preventing gender-based violence in its workforce. Today, the Governor acted swiftly to address the findings and recommendations of our investigative report, which I am confident will make our state workforce better prepared, responsive, and safer for domestic violence victims and all state employees.”
The Governor’s Executive Order follows a newly issued investigative report by Inspector General Lang revealing failures by senior leadership at State agencies overseen by the prior administration to comply with their own domestic violence policies due to a lack of agency awareness of and sensitivity to domestic violence issues.
As detailed in the report, despite being made aware by the employee that she had been the victim of emotional, physical, and verbal abuse by her husband, senior employees in the Labor Relations and Legal Departments failed to respond appropriately. Almost a year later, the husband, who was by then no longer employed by OGS, killed his wife in their home before taking his own life. “While the facts of this ultimate tragedy are beyond the scope of our investigation, which assessed only the agencies’ compliance with their internal policies, it provides critical context for the complexities and dangers of domestic violence, ” said Inspector General Lang. “Moreover, it is an opportunity to reflect on and improve the way we respond to domestic violence in the future.”
Among the Inspector General’s recommendations was designating one or more agency liaisons to the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) and distribute the liaison name(s) and contact information to staff. Since a 2008 executive order, State agencies have been required to utilize OPDV’s model to formulate and adopt policies of their own, but it was not until today that the designation of and dissemination of the contact information for the liaison was mandatory. The Inspector General commends the Governor for addressing this critical gap in policy.
As she also announced earlier today, Inspector General Lang has launched a comprehensive audit of all State executive branch agencies to assess compliance with State Domestic Violence and the Workplace mandates and will now include these additional requirements. The Inspector General’s Office will provide these findings to OPDV who will work with these agencies to ensure compliance and provide training and resources.