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King County’s Domestic Violence in the Workplace policy has not been updated since 2006, and the County’s domestic violence related-resources for employees are limited and hard to find. This can prevent or deter employees from seeking help and make providing assistance to employees more difficult for supervisors, who can be the first or only person to whom an employee discloses. We make recommendations to update the policy and help ensure employees are able to find useful information on rights, expectations, and resources.

Summary

King County has about 15,000 employees, some of whom have or are likely to experience domestic violence while they are working for the County. Domestic violence can consist of physical, sexual, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. In the United States, one in four women and one in nine men have experienced violence by an intimate partner, and a recent review found that nearly half of all women who were victims of homicide between 2007 and 2017 were killed by a current or former partner.

An organized and informed response system for employees experiencing domestic violence can help the County improve employee safety and well-being.

King County has a Domestic Violence in the Workplace policy for Executive branch employees, which is notable among employers in the United States. However, the policy has not been updated since 2006, and the County’s domestic violence related resources for employees are limited and hard to find, which may delay or prevent employees’ access to assistance. For example, the County’s main guidance document for employees contains outdated information and incorrect phone numbers for resources like victim service organizations.

Our survey of county supervisors found that more than 60 supervisors have handled an employee domestic violence concern during their time with the County (see graphic below, right). Furthermore, nearly half of those supervisors had handled more than one concern, and some supervisors reported that they did not bring all domestic violence concerns to someone in a position above them. This emphasizes the importance of employees having accurate and accessible information on rights, expectations, and resources to help effectively address employee domestic violence concerns. However, the County provides limited awareness materials and no general training on domestic violence or the policy.

We make recommendations to update the County’s Domestic Violence in the Workplace policy and guidance documents, and improve access to training and online resources to support supervisors and help ensure employees have accurate and accessible information on rights, expectations, and ways to get assistance. This will help improve employee safety and well-being.

Reports related to this audit

Follow up work is in progress. A report will be available as soon as it is complete.

Currently, there are no related reports to this project.

Audit team

Elise Garvey, Kayvon Zadeh, and Brooke Leary conducted this audit. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call the King County Auditor's Office at 206-477-1033 or contact us by email KCAO@kingcounty.gov.