Mayor announces domestic violence policy for Metro Government employees

Mayor Briley signing an executive order to create Metro’s first comprehensive domestic violence workplace policy, crafted in partnership with the Mayor’s Gender Equity Council, led by Pat Shea and Rita Johnson-Mills.

Metro Government employees are now better protected against the impact of domestic violence under a new policy signed by executive order by Mayor David Briley at the city’s soon-to-open Family Safety Center.

The policy will help Metro employees better identify and support domestic violence victims in the workplace and provide vital work accommodations to these staff members while they obtain supportive services. On signing the Metro domestic violence policy, Mayor Briley also called on Nashville business leaders to implement similar strategies within their organizations.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but victims, survivors and their children are aware of the abuse every single day of the year. This is a pervasive problem, and it’s paying a silent price in our community. I encourage every employer to join me in implementing similar steps to better protect and support their workers and their children from interpersonal violence,” said Mayor Briley.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in the community with the worst cases ending in tragedy. Tennessee is regrettably ranked fifth nationally for men killing women. Nashville has seen nine homicides due to domestic violence already this year. There were 11 domestic violence homicides in Davidson County last year. Additionally, domestic violence accounts for nearly half of all violent crimes committed against a person in Nashville.

“No one should live in fear. Every death is one too many, and we have to all work together to make Nashville a safer city for all people,” said Mayor Briley. “I am grateful to Diane Lance in our Office of Family Safety and to the Council on Gender Equity for its leadership on this issue. Their work with survivors and domestic violence professionals is the basis for this policy.”

The Council on Gender Equity was established in 2017 to serve in an advisory capacity to the mayor and the Chief Diversity Officer on gender inequity issues within city government. Members of the council provide information, advice, research and program recommendations to the Office of the Mayor.

“Our Council recognized that whether employers realize or not domestic violence already is in the workplace and most CEOs struggle to find the best way to help and keep their workplaces safe. We appreciate the mayor’s willingness to be a leader in this area,” said Pat Shea co-chair of the Council on Gender Equity.

The new Metro policy will create a safe and supportive workplace environment for employees to seek assistance in domestic violence situations by: providing referrals to Metro and community resources for those in need; empowering supervisors to develop responsive procedures for employees. These actions could include, among other options, flex time or time off, change in workspace location, or any specific service to protect the health or safety of an employee or their child; providing referrals and/or taking disciplinary actions for perpetrators of abuse; and requiring staff training on recognizing and responding to domestic abuse.

The program will be implemented by Metro’s Office of Family Safety, which is a Metro department solely dedicated to increasing victim safety, offender accountability and partner collaboration. The policy is just one component of a multi-pronged strategy to make supportive services more helpful and accessible to victims in need.

Mayor Briley made the policy announcement at the Office of Family Safety’s brand new Family Safety Center, which will open in early 2019. The new facility will be the largest family justice center of its kind in the nation and will house police, prosecutors, advocates and counselors under one roof to provide support and services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder abuse and child abuse.

“This Family Safety Center is flipping the model. We will no longer send survivors all over town to cobble together the help that they need. With Metro and nonprofit partners working under one roof, survivors and their children will have just one place to go for help at a single location filled with people who care,” said Lance.

Individuals seeking help for interpersonal domestic violence are encouraged to call 1-800-334-4628.