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Your Rights
Domestic Violence and the Workplace

Domestic violence -- mental or physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner -- often affects the victims' ability to work. More than one in four women and one in ten men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Legal Momentum, an advocacy group, victims of domestic violence lose an average of 137 hours of work a year. Intimate partner violence causes victims to lose the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs each year. Some victims need time off from work to seek medical attention, a restraining order, or a safe place to stay. Others can't get to work when an abuser disables their car, sabotages childcare arrangements, or leaves them without cash for public transportation. For more information about domestic violence and the workplace see the FAQ’s below.

  1. I am dealing with a domestic violence situation and afraid I will be fired from my job. Do I have any legal protections?
  2. I was discriminated against at work for being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. What rights do I have?
  3. I was fired because I missed too much work while dealing with an abusive situation. Can I collect unemployment?
  4. I quit my job to make sure my abuser couldn't come to work to attack me or create a disruption in the workplace, can I collect unemployment insurance?
  5. I need to take off from work to go to court, but my employer won't give me the time off. What can I do?
  6. I missed work after being battered by my spouse so badly I had to go to the doctor. I was written up for missing work. Is there anything I can do?
  7. What employment policies might help to protect me in the workplace against domestic violence discrimination?
  8. How do I find out if my employer has policies that can help?
  9. How should I talk to my employer or supervisor about my domestic violence situation?

State and Local Laws Concerning Domestic Violence and the Workplace

1. I am dealing with a domestic violence situation and afraid I will be fired from my job. Do I have any legal protections?

No federal law explicitly protects victims of domestic violence in the workplace or permits them time off to deal with it. However, several states have passed domestic violence leave laws, which give victims the right to take time off work for certain domestic violence-related reasons. Some states allow victims and witnesses of a crime to take time off to attend court proceedings; these laws also apply to victims of domestic violence.

 The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also provide a right to time off for some workers who are facing domestic violence. FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks off every 12 months for their serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to care for a new child (among other things). An employee who is physically injured or develops psychological trauma as a result of domestic violence might be entitled to FMLA leave. An employee might also be able to take time off to care for a parent or child who has been a victim of domestic violence. FMLA leave is unpaid, although employees may use their accrued paid sick or vacation leave while on FMLA leave. The FMLA applies only to employers that have at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of each other. FMLA-eligible employees are those who have worked for at least a year, and at least 1,250 hours in the past year, for the employer.  

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2. I was discriminated against at work for being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. What rights do I have?

Discrimination that occurs because an individual is, or is perceived to be, a victim of domestic violence includes any negative action against a victim of domestic violence. This type of discrimination can include being fired, harassed, or not hired for a job due to your domestic violence situation. This discrimination may happen when you must take time off work to participate in or prepare for court proceedings related to domestic violence. Discrimination may also result from a disruption, or a threat of disruption, in the workplace by someone who has committed or threatened domestic violence against the employee.

If you feel you have experienced discrimination, you may have rights under sex discrimination laws or wrongful discharge laws. Most employees are employees at will. This means they can be fired for any reason or no reason. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. One exception is that an employer cannot fire a person for a discriminatory reason. Sex discrimination and wrongful discharge laws may be helpful because termination from work due to domestic violence could be a wrongful discharge. Furthermore, discrimination based on domestic violence issues can be within the scope of gender discrimination.

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3. I was fired because I missed too much work while dealing with an abusive situation. Can I collect unemployment?

You may be able to collect unemployment, but it depends on your state. In general, you are eligible for unemployment insurance if you are fired from your job for a reason unrelated to your work performance. In a few states, like Maine, and New Jersey, if you are fired because you are a victim of domestic violence, you are presumed eligible for unemployment insurance. However, in most states, you will probably be ineligible for unemployment benefits if you are fired for an act of misconduct as defined in your state's unemployment insurance law. For example, if you are fired because you missed several days of work without providing a sufficient excuse or if you have failed to complete your job requirements, even if it is because of domestic or sexual violence, you may not qualify for benefits because of your misconduct. If your missed days were covered in a sick leave policy or you obtained permission to miss work according to company policy, you may be eligible for benefits. Each state has different laws, so it is important to contact the unemployment agency in your state to determine eligibility requirements.

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4. I quit my job to make sure my abuser couldn't come to work to attack me or create a disruption in the workplace, can I collect unemployment insurance?

Although eligibility for benefits varies from state to state, to collect unemployment insurance, you must have "good cause" for quitting your job or being fired. Generally, "good cause" is something that seriously affects your ability to perform your job. In California, for example, "good cause" is defined as "a real, substantial, and compelling reason of such nature as would cause a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment to take similar action." Many states now recognize that an employee who is a victim of domestic violence has "good cause" to quit his/her job when he/she does so to protect themselves, a family member, or co-workers. A few of these state laws also explicitly apply to sexual assault or stalking victims; some other states laws have definitions of "domestic violence" that are broad enough to cover sexual assault or stalking.

In states that do not explicitly list domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking as "good cause" to leave a job, a domestic or sexual violence victim may still have an opportunity to prove that she had good cause and become eligible for benefits.

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5. I need to take off from work to go to court, but my employer won't give me the time off. What can I do?

Many states, listed below, have passed laws giving victims of domestic violence the right to take some time off work -- see below for more information). These laws allow leave for domestic violence victims to go to court to obtain protection orders, get medical attention, find a victim service program, and get other legal assistance. These laws also prohibit employers from discriminating against victims from taking time off for these reasons. However, employers can ask employees to provide documentation for their absence. These laws vary significantly in the details, including:

  • How much time off. Some states allow employees to take up to a set amount of days or weeks off; others allow employees to take a "reasonable" amount of leave or simply prohibit employers from disciplining or firing employees who take time off for reasons related to domestic leave.
  • Reasons for leave. The list of covered activities varies by state, but most allow time off for medical care and psychological counseling, relocation or other safety planning, and seeking a restraining order or participating in legal proceedings relating to domestic violence.
  • Notice and paperwork requirements. Most states require employees to give reasonable notice that they will need leave, although these laws also recognize that the employee may be facing an emergency and unable to give notice. State law may also require employees to provide some written proof that they took leave for reasons related to domestic violence.
  • Some states require employers to pay employees for time off – see below. Some states allow employees to use their paid leave (such as sick or vacation days) while taking time off for domestic violence; others require employees to use up all their paid leave before taking domestic violence leave.

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6. I missed work after being battered by my spouse so badly I had to go to the doctor. I was written up for missing work. Is there anything I can do?

As discussed above in question [5], although it varies from state to state, some states have passed laws giving victims of domestic violence the right to take time off work if seeking medical attention necessitated by domestic violence. If domestic violence is included in your state's listed reasons for leave, your employer would not be able to discipline you for that absence. You may also be covered by FMLA/state law (if you meet leave requirements under those laws.)

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7. What employment policies might help to protect me in the workplace against domestic violence discrimination?

Although there may not be a specific sexual or domestic violence or workplace violence policy at your place of work, many policies can still serve that purpose. Some examples of policies that might be helpful include:

  • Leave policies: your employer may have paid or unpaid leave policies. Also, you may be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or similar local laws. FMLA
  • Disability policies: your employer may provide paid disability leave. Also, you may be eligible for a job accommodation for disabilities caused by domestic violence under the Americans with Disabilities Act or similar state or local laws. Disability Discrimination
  • Collective bargaining agreements: If you belong to a union, your collective bargaining agreement may cover your situation. Also, some unions have adopted workplace violence or domestic violence policies that explain how your employer's workplace policies apply in domestic violence cases. Labor Unions
  • Sexual harassment policies: if the abuser or perpetrator is your coworker or supervisor, and he/she harasses or sexually assaults you at work, then your employer's sexual harassment policy may cover your situation. Sexual Harassment
  • Domestic violence or workplace violence policies: some employers have adopted domestic/sexual violence or workplace violence policies that may be helpful to you.

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8. How do I find out if my employer has policies that can help?

Your employer may have employment policies that can help you to be safer at work, keep your job, take time off to go to court, or recover from injuries caused by the abuser without losing your job. Check if your employer or union gave you an employee handbook or policy manual when you started work. Employment policies may also be posted at public spaces at work. If you cannot find the employment policies, ask your supervisor, union representative or human resources department to learn about the policies in place.

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9. How should I talk to my employer or supervisor about my domestic violence situation?

Although there are steps you can take on your own, it may be necessary to tell your employer or supervisor about your situation. Before you ask your employer to help you, think about what you need and how to ask for it. Start by asking your employer to keep your situation confidential. Be aware that there may still be times when your employer feels compelled to disclose what you tell them. For example, if you tell your employer that you are afraid that the abuser or perpetrator may harm you at work, your employer may think that he or she must take steps to inform other employees of your situation to improve safety in the workplace. There is also the risk that your employer may believe you should be terminated to keep the workplace safe. Talk with a lawyer or advocate for more information. Tell your employer the steps you are already taking to keep yourself safe. Think about your employer's perspective and interests: he or she probably wants all her workers to be safe and do their jobs well.

If you are experiencing problems at work related to your struggle with domestic violence you should consult an attorney in your area for more information. Not all states have laws specific to this situation, and the right way to handle your problem will differ based on your state and locality.

State and Local Laws Concerning Domestic Violence and the Workplace

ARIZONA:

Arizona’s paid sick time laws include a “safe time” provision. Safe time refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employees can earn 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees in business with 15 or more employees can earn up to 40 hours per year. Workers in businesses with fewer than 15 workers can earn up to 24 hours per year. Paid leave can be used after the employees 90th calendar day of employment.

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CALIFORNIA:

In California, for companies that employ 25 or more people, an employee who is a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence can take up to 12 weeks of leave to seek medical attention, obtain services from a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center, psychological counseling, or relocate. California Statute provides that an employer may not fire or discriminate or retaliate against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault for taking time off to obtain or attempt to obtain a restraining order or any other judicial relief to help ensure his or her health or safety, nor for taking time off to seek medical attention, obtain psychological counseling, or relocate. However, employees must give the employer reasonable notice of intent to take such leave unless notice is not feasible. The employer is required by law to maintain the employee's confidentiality.

Additionally, California’s paid sick time laws include a “safe time” provision. Safe time refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The rate at which workers can earn paid sick/safe time leave is 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may cap the amount of paid sick/safe time a worker earns at 48 hours or 6 days. Employers may also cap the amount of paid sick/safe time a worker can use each year at 24 hours or 3 days. Workers cannot use paid leave until the 90th day of employment.

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COLORADO:

In Colorado, a company that employs 50 or more people must allow an employee who has worked there for at least a year and is a victim of domestic violence-related crimes (including domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking) to take up to 3 days leave per year to seek a restraining order, obtain medical care or counseling, find safe housing, or attend court-related proceedings. Unless the employee is in imminent danger, he/she must provide employer notice.

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CONNECTICUT:

In Connecticut, an employer of 3 or more people cannot terminate or penalize an employee who is a victim of family violence or attends or participates in a family violence court proceeding. The employee can also take up to 12 days leave per year to seek a restraining order, obtain medical care for counseling, find safe housing or attend court-related proceedings. However, your employer may also request that you provide a police or court record related to the family violence, or a written statement from an attorney, victim advocate, or a medical or other professional. These documents must remain confidential unless it is necessary to protect the safety of other employees.

Connecticut paid sick time laws have a “safe time” provision. Safe time refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Workers can earn paid sick/safe time leave of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked. Up to 40 hours of paid sick/safe time leave can be earned per year. Paid leave cannot be used until the 680th hour of employment. Workers are entitled to carry over 40 hours of unused paid leave to the subsequent year.

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DELAWARE:

In Delaware, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who are domestic violence victims. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to the employees that relate to the violence.

An employee must “verify” the offense to gain the protections of the statute. Verification can be accomplished by an official document, such as a court order, or by a reliable third-party professional.

Employers must make reasonable accommodations for the employee unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. Examples of reasonable accommodations provided by the statute include making changes to the employee’s schedule and permitting the employee to use accrued leave.

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:

In D.C., employers of 100 or more people must provide victims of domestic violence 1 hour of paid leave for every 37 hours of work, not to exceed seven days per year. Employers of 25-99 employees must provide domestic violence victims with 1 hour for every 43 hours worked, not to exceed five days per year. Employers of less than 25 employees must provide 1 hour paid leave for every 87 hours worked, not to exceed three days per year. The District of Columbia does not require reasonable notice.

Paid leave may be used for an absence resulting from the where the employee or an employee’s family member is the victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking, seeking medical attention, obtaining psychological or other counseling, relocating, taking legal action, or other actions to enhance the health or safety of the employee or family member. 

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FLORIDA:

In Florida, companies that employ 50 or more people allow employees to take up to 3 days a year off if they or a member of their family or household is a victim of domestic or sexual violence. This leave may be unpaid, but ultimately your employer may make the decision to pay you. Additionally, a private employer must keep all information relating to the leave confidential. Records documenting domestic or sexual violence that are submitted as verification to receive leave, must be confidential.

Also, there are Florida counties that offer more provisions. Employees in Miami-Dade County, who are victims of domestic violence, may receive up to 30 days of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Employees are required, however, to use all paid time before using this special leave. Also, you must verify with your employee through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential. 

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HAWAII:

In Hawaii, employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 30 days of unpaid leave per calendar year. Employers with 49 or fewer employees must provide up to 5 days of unpaid leave to employees per calendar year. This leave may be more than 5 days, but there are additionally requirements for verified written statements or records related to the domestic violence.

The employee must use up all other paid and unpaid leave before these provisions apply. Additionally, tthe employee seeking leave must provide the employer with “reasonable notice” of the employee’s intention to take leave. However, notice is not required where the notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. 

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ILLINOIS:

The Illinois Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSAprovides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to address domestic or sexual violence if the employee meets the following criteria:

  • The employee is a victim of domestic or sexual violence or has a family or household member who is a victim of such violence and
  • The employee is employed by a private employer with 50 or more employees or by a state, or local government or school district may take

An employee working for an employer with 15 to 49 employees can take up to 8 weeks of leave during any 12-month period.

In both cases, the leave may be used to seek medical attention or counseling, obtain services from a victim services organization, participate in safety planning or relocation, or seek legal assistance. Additionally, must use all paid leave before taking time off under this provision. 

Also, the employee must provide 48-hour notice of the leave, unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. Adding to this, the employer may request the employee to provide certification of the violence in order to establish that you are being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential. 

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KANSAS:

In Kansas, an employer may not discharge or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee who is the victim of domestic violence or a victim of sexual assault for taking time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain judicial relief such as a restraining order; seek medical attention; obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, domestic violence program, or rape crisis center; or make court appearances in the aftermath of domestic violence or sexual assault.

However, an employee must give the employer reasonable notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. When prior notice is not possible, the employer may not take any action against the employee if the employee provides certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential.

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MAINE:

In Maine, employers must grant "reasonable and necessary" leave when an employee, or a child, parent or spouse of the employee, is a victim of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, violence, assault, or any other act that would support granting an order of protection.

The leave may be used to prepare for and attend court proceedings, receive medical treatment, or receive any other services to remedy a crisis caused by the violence. Employers are prohibited from sanctioning employees for exercising their rights under this section. There is a $200 civil penalty for violating this law. 

However, the employer is not required to grant leave if the employer would sustain "undue hardship." This means that your employer would be unnecessarily or unfairly harmed by your time off. The leave may also not be granted if  the leave request was not made within a reasonable time under the circumstances, or if the requested leave is impractical, unreasonable or unnecessary based on the facts known to the employer. Notice is reasonable unless it is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger.

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MASSACHUSETTS:

In Massachusetts employer’s with more than 50 employees are required to give victims of domestic violence 15 days of leave in any 12-month period. This leave may be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion.

However, before seeking leave under this provision, Massachusetts has paid sick time laws that have a “safe time” provision. Safe time refers to time off for purposes related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employees earn 1 hour for every 30 hours worked for both paid and unpaid sick and safe time. Employees in businesses with 11 or more employees are entitled to 40 hours of paid sick and safe time a year. Workers in businesses with fewer than 11 employees are entitled to up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time a year.

An employee must give the employer reasonable notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. When prior notice is not possible, the employer may not take any action against the employee if the employee provides certification of the violence within 30 days of the absence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential. 

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA:

Under Minneapolis law, employees will earn one hour of sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked. Employees can earn up to 48 hours per year, and the unused portion can carry over to the following year. An employee can use their accrued sick and safe time 90 calendar days after they begin employment.

Employers with five or fewer employees must allow their employees to use earned sick and safe time unpaid, an employer with six or more workers must pay their employees at their normal hourly rate for using the time. 

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MISSISSIPPI:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

MISSOURI:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

MONTANA:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

NEBRASKA:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

NEVADA:

Under Nevada law, employers are required to provide victims of domestic violence with time off, reasonable accommodations, as well as protection against discrimination and retaliation. The law covers all employers. 

Employees who have worked for an employer for at least 90 days and are victims of an act of domestic violence or have household members who are victims are entitled to 160 hours of leave in a 12-month period, so long as they are not the alleged perpetrator. The leave may be paid or unpaid and may be used either consecutively over one period of time or intermittently every once in a while. 

Domestic violence leave can be used to receive a diagnosis, care, and treatment of health conditions related to violence. It can be used to obtain counseling or to participate in court proceedings related to the violence. It can also be used to establish a safety plan for the victims and their family, or to relocate.

The law requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees who are victims through transfers or reassignments, modified schedules, a new work telephone number, and any other reasonable accommodation that will not create an undue hardship on the employer and is necessary to ensure the safety of the employee, the workplace, the employer, or other employees. Undue hardship on the employer occurs when an employer is unfairly burdened or harmed by making an accommodation for you.

Lastly, an employer may require employee to provide certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential. 

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NEW JERSEY:

The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (NJ SAFE Act) provides employment protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Act allows 20 days of unpaid leave for victims of violence. 

Under New Jersey law, an employer with 25 or more employees is required to give employees who have been employed for at least 12 months, unpaid leave of no more than 20 days in one 12-month period. This time is to be used within the 12-month period following the incident.

Each qualifying incident is a separate offense for which an employee is entitled to unpaid leave, provided or she has not exhausted the 20 days for the 12-month period.  Employees may seek leave even if they are the direct victim of domestic violence. Leave may be taken for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner. 

All employees working in the state will be eligible for paid leave under the Act, with the exception of:

  • construction employees working under a collective bargaining agreement;
  • per diem health care employees; and
  • public employees, who are already required to receive paid sick leave.

Employees may begin using paid sick leave on the 120th day of employment unless the employer agrees to an earlier date. Employees are entitled to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employer shall not be required to permit an employee to earn more than 40 hours of sick leave in a given benefit year. An employee must give the employer reasonable notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. An employer may also require certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential. 

Employers may not retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under the Act. The Act creates a belief of unlawful retaliatory conduct when an employer takes adverse action against an employee within ninety days of when that employee files a complaint, informs others of a violation of the Act, cooperates with an investigation or prosecution made pursuant to the Act, opposes any policy that is made unlawful by the Act, or informs any person of his or her rights under the Act.

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NEW MEXICO:

Under the New Mexico Promoting Financial Independence for Victims of Domestic Abuse Act employees who are victims of domestic abuse are entitled to domestic abuse leave, which is paid or unpaid leave time for up to14 days in any calendar year, and up to eight hours in one day.

The leave may be used to obtain an order of protection or other judicial relief, to meet with law enforcement officials, to consult with attorneys or victim advocates, or to attend court proceedings related to the domestic abuse of the employee or the employee's family member.

The employee must give the employer 24 hour notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. An employer may also require certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. The employer must maintain confidentiality about the domestic abuse unless the employee consents or when otherwise required by federal or state law.

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NEW YORK STATE:

In New York, victims of domestic violence are a group protected from employment discrimination. "Domestic violence victim" means a person who is a victim of an act which would be a family offense under the state's Family Court Act.

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NEW YORK CITY:

In New York City, an employer cannot discharge, or discriminate against an individual because the individual is, or is perceived to be, a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking. Under this law, unlawful discrimination includes taking actions against a victim based solely on the acts of a person who has perpetrated acts or threats of violence against the victim. An employer is required to make reasonable accommodations for a victim to permit her or him to perform the "essential requisites" of the job unless doing so would be an "undue hardship" for an employer. Undue hardship means that the employer would be unfairly burdened by accommodating you.

Paid sick leave includes time off for victims or for family members of victims of domestic violence and stalking. The total leave can be no less than 40 hours per year.

The definition of “family member” includes an individual related by blood and an individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship, in addition to a child (of an employee, spouse or domestic partner), spouse, domestic partner, parent (of an employee, spouse or domestic partner), sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

This leave may be used for meeting with and safety planning with a social worker or advocate, meeting with a civil legal attorney, filing a police report, meeting with the District Attorney’s Office, attending a court appearance, attending an appointment with a financial counselor, moving into safe housing, and more. 

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NEW YORK WESTCHESTER COUNTY:

In Westchester County, employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking is prohibited. It protects victims from being fired, refused employment, or otherwise discriminated against at work based on being a victim of such violence. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to permit a victim to perform his or her job, including schedule modifications or security measures, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. To claim protections under the law, an individual must provide the employer with documentation certifying that he or she is a victim of such violence. This requirement can be met by providing a police report; court order; or documentation from a medical professional, domestic violence advocate, clergy member, or counselor from whom the individual has sought assistance in addressing the violence.

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NORTH CAROLINA:

In North Carolina, an employer is prohibited from discharging, demoting, disciplining, or denying a promotion to an employee who takes reasonable time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain a protective order or other relief under the state's domestic violence law. An employee who is absent to seek this type of relief must follow the employer' s usual leave policy or practices. An employee must give the employer reasonable notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. 

An employer may also require certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential.

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NORTH DAKOTA:

North Dakota is in the process of advocating for the establishment of a Domestic Violence Leave Law that would provide more workplace protections for victims in the state. The state does not currently require employers to offer leave for this purpose.

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OHIO:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

OKLAHOMA:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

OREGON:

In Oregon, an employee who works more than 25 hours a week for at least 180 days prior to taking domestic violence leave 

 in a workplace with at least 6 employees, can take reasonable, unpaid time off from work so long as he or she is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking, or is the parent or guardian of a minor child or dependent who is a victim. The leave can be used:

  • to seek legal or law enforcement assistance, related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;
  • to seek medical treatment or to recover from injuries;
  • to obtain, or to assist a minor child or dependent in obtaining, counseling from a licensed mental health professional;
  • to obtain services from a victim services provider;
  • or to relocate or take steps to secure an existing home.

Additionally, under Oregon’s paid sick time laws, there is a “safe time” provision. Safe time refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employers with at least 10 or more employees must give up to 40 hours of paid sick/safe time per year. Employees can earn 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.

Lastly, your employer cannot refuse to grant you a reasonable accommodation but may require certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential.

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PORTLAND, OREGON:

Portland expands rights given to employees under the Oregon state law to mandate that employees who work in the city of Portland must earn 1 hour of time off for every 30 hours of work. This earned time is capped at 40 hours per calendar year.

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA:

In Philadelphia, most employees are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The City of Philadelphia expands on the federal law by allowing an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or who has a family or household member who is a victim to be entitled to unpaid leave. 

The leave may be used to seek medical attention for physical or psychological injuries caused by the violence; obtain services from a victim services organization; obtain psychological or other counseling; participate in safety planning, relocation or other actions to increase safety or economic security; or seek legal assistance.

For an employer with 50 or more employees, the law provides eight weeks of leave per year; for an employer with less than 50 employees, the law provides four weeks of leave per year. 

An employee must give the employer 48-hour notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. An employer may also require certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential.

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RHODE ISLAND:

In Rhode Island, an employer is prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, or discriminating against an individual solely because the individual seeks or obtains a protective order or refuses to seek or obtain such an order. A court may award actual damages or order injunctive relief, as well as attorney's fees, in a civil action alleging a violation of the statute. 

Employees earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours worked. The sick leave can be used for domestic violence-related reasons. The law applies to an employer who has at least 18 employees. These must provide up to 5 days, which 40 hours, of leave.

The law excludes state and city employees and individuals not considered employees under the Rhode Island Minimum Wage Law. These employees include golf caddies, outside salespeople, and some seasonal resort people. Construction employers are not required to provide paid sick leave to employees who are under a union agreement. Independent contractors and subcontractors are excluded, as well as Federal work-study participants, interns, and apprentices.

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SOUTH CAROLINA:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

SOUTH DAKOTA:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

TENNESSEE:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

TEXAS:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

UTAH:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

VERMONT:

Vermont does not provide extensive protections like many other states. However, under Vermont’s paid sick time laws there is a “safe time” provision. Safe time refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employees may earn up to 40 hours a year. New businesses will not be subject to paid sick and safe time law for one year after hiring their first worker.

The leave may be used to seek medical attention for physical or psychological injuries caused by the violence; obtain services from a victim services organization; obtain psychological or other counseling; participate in safety planning, relocation or other actions to increase safety or economic security; or seek legal assistance.

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VIRGINIA:

The Virginia legislature has introduced a bill that offers domestic violence leave to employees who have been victims. This bill has not been passed and the state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

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WASHINGTON:

In Washington, an employee who is a victim, or whose family member is a victim, of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, may take reasonable leave from work, with or without pay, to:

  • seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies, including, but not limited to, participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to the violence; 
  • seek treatment by a health care provider; 
  • obtain services from a victim service provider; 
  • obtain mental health counseling; or 
  • participate in safety planning, including relocation or other actions

The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who take advantage of domestic violence leave laws. The law prohibits employers from taking any adverse employment action against an employee, such as discharging, demoting, or denying a promotion because the employee exercised Domestic Violence Leave law rights, filed or communicated to the employer an intent to file a complaint under the Domestic Violence Leave law, or participated or assisted in another employee’s attempted exercise of Domestic Violence Leave law rights.

Additionally, Washington’s paid sick leave laws, including municipal sick leave laws in Seattle, Tacoma, and SeaTac, allow covered employees to take available paid sick leave for domestic violence purposes if the employee or a covered family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This provision allows 1 hour of leave for every 40 hours worked.

Further, It is unlawful to refuse to make a reasonable safety accommodation requested by an individual who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer’s business.  “Undue hardship” is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense. Undue hardship occurs when your employer is unfairly harmed by making an accommodation for you.

If an employee requests a reasonable safety accommodation, the employer may require verification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. Any information submitted by you must remain confidential.

Additionally, employers may not refuse to hire an otherwise qualified individual because the individual is an actual or perceived victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers also must not discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an individual because the individual is an actual or perceived victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

If these rights are violated, an employee can file an administrative complaint or a civil action in court. The requirements of the law are required to be posted in the workplace.


SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: 

In Seattle, full time and part time employees can earn at least 1 hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 40 hours worked. The leave may be used after the employee has been employed for 180 days. Employees may use this leave to address the effects of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking concerning themselves or a family member. In particular, they may take time off to seek medical attention, receive services from an applicable social services program, obtain legal or law enforcement assistance, attend counseling and participate in safety planning, including relocating or taking other appropriate safety measures.

The employee must give the employer notice of his or her intention to take time off unless notice is made impossible because the employee is in imminent danger. If the leave is longer than three consecutive work days, an employer may also require certification of the violence in order to establish that the employee was being truthful about the purpose of your leave. This can be done through certified statements or documents by a physician, attorney, or victim advocate, that you are facing domestic violence. All information gathered under these provisions must be maintained in confidence unless the disclosure is requested or consented to by the employee, ordered by a court or an administrative agency or otherwise required by law.

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WEST VIRGINIA:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

WISCONSIN:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.

WYOMING:

This state does not currently require employers to provide leave for victims of domestic violence.
 




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