State of Ohio rolls out enhanced domestic violence awareness, support training for state employees

COLUMBUS – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the State of Ohio is launching an enhanced training program aimed at educating state employees about domestic violence and its effects on the workplace.

“Domestic violence is unacceptable and far too common,” DeWine said. “It is our hope is that this enhanced program will give state employees a better understanding of signs associated with domestic violence, resources available and how to appropriately report domestic violence.”

The Ohio Department of Health developed the web-based training in partnership with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services. The training is mandatory for all managers, equipping them with helpful techniques when talking with staff who may be experiencing or causing harm in a relationship. All state employees also will have the option to participate in training to better notice and support a coworker affected by violence in any relationship.

“It is unacceptable that millions of men, women and children are victims of domestic violence each year,” said Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health director. “It can include physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and financial abuse, and it crosses boundaries of age, socio-economic status, race and ethnicity, religion and sex.”

The training and related policy was updated to reflect DeWine’s Executive Order 2019-09D, Workplace Domestic Violence Policy in State Government. The order expanded the definition of domestic violence to include victims of dating violence, reflecting modifications made to Ohio law last year.

In addition to the training, all state agencies, boards and commissions are required to maintain and post lists of resources for those experiencing and perpetrating domestic violence; take appropriate supportive actions when an employee is the victim of domestic violence, such as modifying work schedules, duties or locations when involved parties are employed in the same location; grant leave requests when needed due to current or past domestic violence and to work with the Ohio Employee Assistance Program when considering corrective actions.

The executive order also directs all state entities to take necessary corrective actions, up to and including termination, when an employee commits or threatens to commit domestic violence on state property, at state-sponsored events or when using state resources; and to contact law enforcement if an incident occurs.

“As an employer, we are in a unique position to provide a safe and supportive environment for employees experiencing abuse in their relationships and to get them the help they need,” DAS Director Matt Damschroder said. “We can do that by providing our front-line staff and managers with the training and tools they need to address this topic.”

The state policy and training honors the memory of Barbara Warner, an employee of the Ohio Department of Health, who as a part of her job distributed information about domestic violence to others. Unknown to her co-workers, Warner, was a long-time victim of domestic violence and was eventually murdered by her husband on May 27, 1997. In the aftermath of her death, her co-workers formed a domestic violence work group that led to many changes at the agency and throughout the state, which are all reflected in the current policy and training.