ALBANY, N.Y (WTEN) — The Inspector General today revealed findings of a 2019 investigation where two state agencies failed to comply with domestic violence policies in the workplace. Some say had these policies been followed, a state employee may not have lost her life. The IG also spoke about strategies to combat these issues.
“We will never know, if any kind of intervention could have prevented this tragedy,” said Inspector General, Lucy Lang.
The report does not name the couple, but police identified them as Sarbjit Kaur Saran and Bhupinder Saran . Sarbjit was an ITS employee for over 30 years and Bhupinder was an OGS employee in 2019.
The initial complaint came in August of 2019, when Bhupinder reported that his wife was using a state provided phone for personal matters.
Sarbjit then told investigators she was in an abusive relationship and used the phone to document evidence of “mental, physical and emotional abuse” caused by her husband.
The IG says that Sarbjits report of domestic violence fell on deaf ears. Almost a year later, Bhupinder killed his wife before taking his own life. The Deputy Inspector General said both agencies fell short in following protocol.
“Instead, rather than consult with the employee to develop and implement an individualized workplace safety plan and take steps to ensure the staff knew how to provide a safe environment for her, the agency proceeded with a disciplinary action against her, resulting in a counseling memo,” Ms. Silver said.
The report also found that ITS senior employees had little to no knowledge of domestic violence policies in the workplace. The Inspector General spoke to how we can prevent situations like this in the future.
“I encourage state agencies to speak openly and to seek support in areas that they don’t know. Because so much of what happened here is that warning signs were disregarded. And that is a failure of education, a failure of training,” she said.
In a statement, Jennifer Lorenz with New York’s ITS Department said, “In response to this matter… We are making additional training resources available to all staff, including supervisors, managers and our Executive leadership team.”
Help is available for anyone experiencing domestic abuse. You can speak with someone today at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-7233.