Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 398: Establishing a policy of zero tolerance for domestic violence

Date: 08/01/1997
Issuer: Acting Governor Argeo Paul Cellucci
Mass Register: No. 824
Revoked and Superseded by: Executive Order 491

Table of Contents

WHEREAS,- domestic violence studies have shown that as many as 54% of women in this country become involved in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives; and

WHEREAS, domestic violence surveys have shown that approximately 12% of women nationally are currently in abusive relationships; and

WHEREAS, in 1996 the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups received approximately 75,000 calls for assistance from victims and sheltered approximately 3,000 women; and

WHEREAS, since 1991 Massachusetts courts have issued an average of 45,000 restraining orders each year; and

WHEREAS, domestic violence affects people of all ages in every racial, socioeconomic, educational, and religious segment of society; and

WHEREAS, domestic violence is a societal problem with consequences extending beyond the family and into all areas of society, including the workplace; and

WHEREAS, domestic violence adversely affects employee productivity and causes absenteeism and employee turnover in the workplace; and

WHEREAS, victims of domestic violence are often especially vulnerable in the workplace when attempting to end abusive relationships because the workplace is often where the abuser can find the victim; and

WHEREAS, the executive department of the Commonwealth is the largest employer in the state and has a responsibility to set an example for other employers; and

WHEREAS, statistics suggest that the executive department of the Commonwealth currently has as many as 3,500 employees who are currently involved in an abusive relationship, and has as many as 17,500 employees who have at some point been involved in such a relationship; and

WHEREAS, I intend that the executive department of the Commonwealth be a domestic violence-free workplace for all of its employees;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Argeo Paul Cellucci, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby order as follows:


For purposes of this executive order, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

"Domestic violence", any action involving "abuse" as that term is defined in section 1 of chapter 209A of the General Laws, and any action in violation of a restraining order;

"Employee", any person employed full-time or part-time by an employer;

"Employer", the Office of the Governor and any state agency as defined in section 1 of chapter 6A of the General Laws;

"Abuser", a person who commits domestic violence:

"Restraining order", any restraining order, injunction, or other legally enforceable requirement, whether issued under chapter 209A of the General Laws or other authority, providing that an abuser must avoid contact with and/or remain away from an alleged victim of domestic violence;

"Victim", a person who is a victim of domestic violence.


2.1 It is the policy of the Commonwealth to have zero tolerance for domestic violence in any form at any place, whether at home, at the workplace, or elsewhere.

2.2 All employers are directed to establish a policy of zero tolerance for domestic violence within their workplaces. Such policies shall include the following elements: (i) a definition, description, and examples of domestic violence; (ii) a statement that any use of work time or workplace facilities to commit or threaten to commit acts of domestic violence is cause for discipline up to and including dismissal; (iii) a statement that all acts of domestic violence, regardless of whether they occur in or near the workplace, may be cause for discipline up to and including dismissal, and may be considered in hiring and promotion determinations; and (iv) information indicating where victims and abusers can go for help, including but not limited to victim assistance programs, battered women's shelters, and certified batterer intervention programs. Employers are directed to exercise their best efforts to include principles of zero tolerance of domestic violence in future collective bargaining agreements.

2.3 Employers are directed to review their existing personnel policies and procedures and to revise them as necessary to ensure that they are responsive to the needs of victims.

2.4 Employers are directed to provide, encourage, and promote domestic violence education and training for all their employees, with special emphasis on workplace security and safety, appropriate training for supervisory personnel in identifying and responding to domestic violence, the need for confidentiality and record keeping, and appropriate referral of employees affected by domestic violence to victim service programs and certified batterer intervention programs.

2.5 Employers are directed to respect the privacy of victims and to preserve confidentiality at all times, to the extent possible, in dealing with situations involving domestic violence.


3.1 Employees shall be entitled to be absent from work for up to fifteen (15) days per year for purposes of victim counseling, obtaining medical treatment, attending legal proceedings, or carrying out other necessary activities, where such activities result from domestic violence inflicted upon the employee or upon the employee's children where the employee is not the abuser. Such absences shall be paid, and shall be in addition to any other vacation time, personal time, sick time, or other paid leave time to which the employee is entitled.

3.2 Employers are authorized and encouraged to grant up to six (6) months unpaid leave to an employee who is a victim, or whose children are victims where the employee is not the abuser, where the employee requests such leave as a result of domestic violence. Employers shall offer the same or a similar position to such an employee upon the employee's return from leave.


4.1 An employee who so chooses may notify his or her employer of the existence of a restraining order protecting the employee. Upon receipt of such notice, the employer shall make all reasonable efforts to monitor and enforce the restraining order in the workplace. Such efforts shall include notifying security personnel of the identity of the person against whom the restraining order is issued, and, where possible, providing such personnel with a photograph of such person.

4.2 If an employer becomes aware that a restraining order applicable to one or more of its employees is in effect, the employer may offer a victim reassignment to a different geographical location, and may require an employee who is an abuser to accept reassignment to a different geographical location, if the employer determines that such reassignment will help ensure the safety of the victim or others in the workplace. Where a victim has requested reassignment, the employer shall give the request top priority.


5.1 Employees who are abusers are on notice that the Commonwealth has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Employers are directed to report acts of domestic violence and violations of restraining orders that occur in the workplace to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

5.2 Where a judicial determination of probable cause has been made that an employee has committed an act of domestic violence, the employee may be disciplined by the employer regardless of whether such act occurred in or near the workplace. Such discipline may include loss of vacation time, suspension with or without pay, or dismissal. Employers may also require such employees to attend a certified batterer intervention program, and may consider acts of domestic violence, along with the employee's success or failure in completing a certified batterer intervention program, in promotion and other work-related determinations.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this first day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven.

Argeo Paul Cellucci
Acting Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth

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