A baseball player linked to domestic violence can be put on involuntary paid leave during an investigation and can be suspended even in the absence of a criminal conviction, under a policy announced Friday by Major League Baseball and its players' union.
The length of any suspension for "domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse" is left to the discretion of the commissioner, who can make a judgment "appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct." The commissioner already had that power under the "just cause" provision of the collective bargaining agreement.
An independent arbitrator -- not the commissioner -- would hear appeals to any suspension.
The new policy empowers the league to put any player under investigation for domestic violence on paid leave of up to seven days, and to defer a decision on any suspension until after the leave. The policy also requires any such player to appear for an interview as part of the league's investigation.
The commissioner also can delay discipline until the conclusion of legal proceedings, with the option of reinstating the player until then or keeping the player on paid leave. The commissioner's authority to impose a suspension is "not dependent on whether the player is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime."
MLB and the union also agreed to establish a treatment board to evaluate and, if warranted, provide a treatment program for affected players.
In addition, the league said it would adopt a similar policy for minor leaguers, club employees and league employees. The union said it would do the same for its staff.
"Players are husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends," MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said, "and as such want to set an example that makes clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in our society.