Supporting Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Offenses, and Stalking and Their Family Members


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Oct. 3, 2019 When Superseded 12   20  


NOTE:This issuance supersedes DPM Issuance 2018-24, Supporting Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking, issued on December 31, 2018.

The District government strives to create a work environment where all employees feel supported and safe. Unfortunately, domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking may affect the workplace. Through this issuance, the District government is providing comprehensive guidance to help its agencies and employees address the challenges District employees impacted by domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking (collectively, DVSOS) may face at work and improve employer response to such violence and its effects on employees.


For the purposes of this Issuance, the following terms have the meanings described below:

Domestic Violence – refers to a pattern of coercive behavior, including acts or threatened acts, that are used by a perpetrator to gain power and control over a current or former spouse, or a current or former intimate partner. This behavior includes, but is not limited to, physical or sexual violence, sexual offenses, emotional or psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking, economic control, harassment, threats, physical intimidation, or injury.

Family Members – includes the following:

  1. Spouse (including domestic partners);
  2. Parents of a spouse;
  3. Children (including foster children and grandchildren);
  4. Spouses of children;
  5. Parents;
  6. Brothers and sisters;
  7. Spouses of brothers and sisters;
  8. Child who lives with an individual and for whom the individual permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility; and,
  9. Person with whom an individual shares or has shared, for not less than the preceding 12 months, a mutual residence and with whom the individual maintains a committed relationship.

Intimate Partners – refers to persons of all gender identities and sexual orientations who are or were legally married to one another or who have a child together, or who are or were in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship including but not limited to couples who live together or have lived together.

Perpetrators – refers to individuals who commit or threaten to commit an act of domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking.

Sexual Offenses – refers to a range of behaviors, including but not limited to, a completed non-consensual sex act (e.g., rape, sodomy, child molestation), an attempted non-consensual sex act, or abusive sexual conduct. Sexual offenses include any sexual act or behavior that is perpetrated when someone does not or cannot consent. A victim of a sexual offense may know the perpetrator, such as a co-worker or a supervisor, or may be involved in a dating or marital relationship with the perpetrator, or the perpetrator may be unknown to the victim. Lack of consent should be inferred when a perpetrator uses force, harassment, threat of force, threat of adverse personnel or disciplinary action, or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious, or physically or legally incapable of consent.

Stalking – refers to harassing, intimidating, or threatening conduct that causes the victim to fear for his or her safety or the safety of a family member or would cause a reasonable person in a similar situation to fear for his or her safety. Stalking conduct includes, but is not limited to: following or spying on a person; appearing at a person’s home or work; engaging in unwanted, harassing, or threatening phone calling, emailing, texting, etc.; waiting at places in order to make unwanted contact with the victim or to monitor the victim; leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers for the victim; and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth. Stalking may occur through use of technology including, but not limited to: email; voicemail; text messaging; and use of GPS, and social networking sites.

Victims and Survivors – refers to individuals who are or have been the direct target of domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking.

Workplace Safety and Security Plans – refers to strategies developed in collaboration with a victim, survivor, or family member of a victim or survivor to implement workplace safety and security options.

Domestic Violence, Sexual Offenses, and Stalking

Abuse in the form of domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking impacts thousands of individuals in the workplace daily. Domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking harm the physical and mental health of victims and survivors and their family members and can negatively impact their access to employment, housing, and other basic needs and services. Anyone can be a victim of DVSOS regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education level, gender identity, sexual orientation, or cultural background.

Pursuant to the Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Offenses, and Stalking Amendment Act of 2018, D.C. Act 22-609, victims and family members of victims of domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking are now covered by the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 and the Office of Human Rights Establishment Act of 1999.

Workplace Safety and Security Plan

Upon the request of an employee, an agency shall engage in a timely, good faith, and interactive process with the employee to determine and implement reasonable accommodations for workplace safety and security (“safety and security measures”). An agency should discuss options with the employee and seek to obtain the employee’s consent before involving or notifying other agency staff (see Confidentiality, Records, and Reporting).

An agency’s safety and security measures can entail a Workplace Safety and Security Plan, which may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. With notice to the employee, consulting the agency General Counsel or legal office about measures regarding safety and security, such as the enforcement of protective orders, barring notices from the Department of General Services, etc.;
  2. Initiating temporary or permanent adjustment to work schedules or locations;
  3. Changing e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or D.C. government parking locations;
  4. Installing additional locks or other measures to prevent unwanted access to the employee’s work station;
  5. Other reasonable adjustments to the employee’s job structure, work requirements, or work station; and
  6. In accordance with the D.C. personnel regulations or applicable collective bargaining agreement, working with the employee’s supervisor to temporarily adjust job duties.

When development of a Workplace Safety and Security Plan requires coordination of two or more District government agencies, these agencies, inclusive of their respective legal offices, shall work together to ensure that all reasonable measures have been taken to assist the employee.

In determining whether a safety and security measure is reasonable, the agency shall consider such factors as: the feasibility of the proposed accommodation under the circumstances; the likelihood and type of danger facing the employee; the permanency or length of time of a proposed measure; court orders and requirements; the availability of agency resources; the impact on the agency’s mission and work; and the impact on the safety and well-being of other employees and customers. In determining whether a safety and security measure would create an undue hardship, the agency shall consider whether it requires significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to factors such as the size of the District government, the financial resources of the District government, and the nature and structure of the District government’s operations.

Assistance with safety planning is available from community-based organizations that provide services to victims of domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking and can be accessed through the DC Victim Hotline by phone or text at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732) or via chat at

Potential Workplace-specific Signs

In many instances, victims and survivors of DVSOS exhibit signs that they have been or are being victimized. Below are some of the physical and emotional indicators that managers and co-workers may become aware of:

Potential Signs

  • Avoidance of windows and public entrances;
  • Changes in job performance (such as inconsistent or distracted work);
  • Disruptive visits to the workplace by a current or former partner or spouse;
  • Excessive absenteeism or tardiness;
  • Extending their workday, not wanting to go home;
  • Harassing emails or phone calls from the perpetrator;
  • Injuries such as bruises, black eyes, broken bones, and hearing loss;
  • Request for special accommodations such as to leave work early consistently;
  • Sensitivity about home life or hints about trouble at home;
  • Signs of fear, anxiety, depression;
  • Vague, non-specific medical complaints; or
  • Wearing sunglasses inside or long sleeves in the summer (to possibly cover up injuries).

Discrimination and Retaliation Prohibited

Agencies shall ensure that personnel policies and procedures do not discriminate against victims, survivors, or family members of victims or survivors and that agency policies and procedures are responsive to the needs of victims,  survivors, and their family members.

An agency shall not discharge, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against, employees who are victims, survivors, or family members of victims or survivors of DVSOS, based wholly or partially on the fact that:

  • The employee attended participated in, prepared for (or requested leave to attend, participate in, or prepare for) a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding related to DVSOS, including time to obtain a temporary protective order, protective order, or other injunctive relief;
  • The employee sought physical or medical health treatment or counseling relating to DVSOS; or
  • An individual caused a disruption at the employee’s workplace or made a threat to the employee’s employment, related to DVSOS.

Agencies are encouraged to be as flexible as possible with respect to an employee’s request to use leave to attend to a DVSOS-related matter, such as to take time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain relief to help ensure the health, safety, or welfare of the employee or the employee’s family members.

Agencies shall take appropriate administrative action against employees who have committed acts of domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking in the workplace in accordance with the D.C. personnel regulations, including Chapter 16 (Corrective and Adverse Actions; Enforced Leave; and Grievances) of the District Personnel Manual, and any applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Assistance for Victims and Survivors

If you are a manager and you believe that an employee is the victim or survivor of DVSOS, there are steps you can take to assist. These include making the employee aware of the following resources:

Agency Support

  • The Agency’s point of contact for domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking matters, as described below; and
  • The option for developing a Workplace Safety and Security Plan.

Additional Support

An agency is expected to take reasonable action when a victim, survivor, or family member of a victim or survivor notifies the agency of the need for work-related assistance. Such reasonable action depends on the individual circumstances of each employee. If requested or authorized by the employee, reasonable action should include communications with the agency’s point of contact, as discussed below, and other options provided in this issuance.

Assistance for Constituents

District agencies are encouraged to develop policies to guide their interactions with victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking as appropriate for their mission and work.

Additionally, if you are approached by a resident of the District of Columbia seeking assistance as a victim or survivor of domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking, you may refer them to the DC Victim Hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at 1-844-HELPDC (1-844-443-5732) or via chat at

Employee Leave Options

Employees may use leave in accordance with Chapter 12 (Hours of Work, Legal Holidays and Leave) of the District Personnel Manual (DPM) to handle a personal matter related to domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking. Employees are encouraged to contact their agency’s human resources department or agency point of contact responsible for handling DVSOS matters (see below) to discuss potential leave options.

An employee who requires time off from work to attend to a DVSOS-related matter shall give his or her immediate supervisor, another supervisor in the agency, or the agency’s designated point of contact reasonable advance notice of the employee’s intention to take off work and shall comply with the agency’s requirements for requesting and receiving approval for leave. However, in the event an unscheduled absence from work occurs, a supervisor shall not take action against the employee if the employee, within two weeks or a reasonable amount of time after the absence, provides supporting documentation to the employer that the time taken off from work was due to domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking.

Temporary District government employees, who are considered covered employees under DPM § 1279, are also entitled to paid leave under the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act for absences and illnesses associated with DVSOS.


An agency may ask an employee to provide supporting documentation of her or his need to receive safety, security, and support measures or request for leave for a DVSOS-related matter. For example, if an employee requests changes to their work schedule, duty location, or other similar changes to the work environment, an agency may ask for acceptable forms of information, as may be provided for in the DPM. Documentation may include, as appropriate, a police report, protective order, court document such as a victim or witness statement, or certification from a relevant medical provider, and should include documentation substantiating the need for the presence of the employee, as applicable.

Agency Points of Contact

Each agency shall designate at least one point of contact (POC) at the agency to assist and respond to inquiries from victims, survivors, and family members of victims or survivors, as well as to provide information about domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking generally to agency employees and managers. The POC shall assist the agency in determining and implementing reasonable safety, security, and support measures and may assist victims, survivors, and family members in requesting and obtaining leave to handle DVSOS-related matters.

When deciding on a POC, agencies should designate a willing individual who is easily accessible to agency employees, or who can make themselves available, and should give consideration to an individual’s temperament and ability to handle DVSOS matters with sensitivity, compassion, and respect. We recommend that designated Sexual Harassment Officers (SHOs) serve in this role.

In addition to SHOs, individuals who are in an agency’s human resources department or legal department, or who are appointed as an Equal Employment Counselor or Officer, may be good options given their pre-existing training and background. POCs are not a substitute for clinical support, and they shall not perform the duties of a licensed mental health professional. Agencies shall notify all agency employees of the name(s) and contact information for the POC(s) appointed to serve in this role.

Whenever a designated POC leaves the agency or is no longer able to fulfill the role as the POC, the agency shall designate a new POC within 14 days.

Confidentiality, Records, and Reporting


Agency personnel shall keep confidential information related to an employee who is a victim or survivor, or family member of a victim or survivor, of DVSOS, and shall not divulge such information without the written consent of the employee, unless the agency determines that such disclosure is necessary. It shall not be a violation of this section to make a disclosure that is:

  1. Requested or voluntarily authorized in writing by the employee;
  2. Ordered by a court or administrative agency or otherwise required by law;
  3. Provided to a law enforcement agency;
  4. Necessary to protect other employees from imminent harm; or
  5. To the extent necessary, to provide a reasonable accommodation to the victim, survivor, or family member.

If a disclosure without the employee’s consent becomes necessary, agency personnel shall only make such disclosures with the approval of the agency head, or his or her designee, and only as necessary based on the circumstances or the basis for the disclosure, and only to those individuals or authorities with a need for the information. Notice shall be provided to the employee.


All records and information obtained from an employee related to his or her DVSOS situation must be maintained securely and separate from the employee’s official personnel folder (OPF). Such records shall be maintained by the agency POC for no more than two years following receipt of the most recent record.


Each agency shall develop a reporting procedure that provides an effective, confidential, and accessible way for employees who are victims, survivors, or family members of victims or survivors of DVSOS to request work-related assistance or report incidents and concerns. This procedure may require the formulation of reporting forms, confidential channels of communication, and whatever else may be necessary to effectuate swift and appropriate agency action in support of the victim or survivor.

Training and Awareness

District government managers and employees should be aware of the sources of support that exist in their agencies, as well as outside resources. Supervisors, human resource personnel, agency EEO Counselors and Officers, and other employees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with available resources and to seek out training related to the effects of domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking on the workplace and the best methods for responding. Agencies are also encouraged to incorporate training options on domestic violence, sexual offenses, and stalking into their mandatory training offerings. The Department of Human Resources will identify various DVSOS training programs to offer to agency POCs assigned to assist and respond to inquiries from victims and survivors, and other agency employees.


This issuance applies to those District government agencies subordinate to the Mayor’s personnel authority. Agencies with independent personnel authority may adopt any of these procedures to provide guidance to employees under their respective jurisdictions.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

In the event of a conflict between any of the provisions of this E-DPM issuance and any collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the provisions of the CBA shall control to the extent there is a difference.

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this issuance, please contact the Department of Human Resources, Employee Relations Unit, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Oct. 3, 2019, 6 a.m.