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Providing Leave for Employee Victims of Domestic Violence

West Palm Beach Business Litigation Attorney 2023-01-26 16-49-13

If you have a business and that business has more than 50 employees, you need to be aware of a little known law that protects the jobs of employees who are subject to domestic violence. So long as the employee has worked for your business for three months, you should be aware of your obligation under the law.

Leave to Attend to Domestic Violence Issues

The law requires that employees who are either victims of domestic or sexual violence themselves, or else, who live in the same household as someone who was a victim, be given 3 working days of leave, to attend to matters related to the domestic violence.

A “household member,” as defined in the law, includes married and mom-married parents of a child, and anybody living together—note that the language of the statute would seem to include LBGTQ or same-sex partners, so long as they are living in the same household.

Getting and Using the Time Off

That leave can be with or without pay, but you cannot punish the employee or retaliate against the employee for taking that time, and the employee gets that time, regardless of how much time he or she has remaining for time off.

The law does give exact purposes for using or requesting the time off. They include getting treatment/counseling for domestic violence, obtaining injunctions, getting social services, seeking new places to live for protection, or getting legal help or preparing for legal proceedings related to injunctions or violence.

For employees however, there is one caveat in the law, that makes it less than useful: The employee must first exhaust any other leave, like vacation or personal or sick time, before being able to take the statutorily required three days. However, the employer can waive that requirement.

Employers can ask for proof or documentation of the employee’s situation, and have a right to advance notice of the employee taking the leave, but be aware that the law does require employers to keep that information strictly confidential. There is an exception where disclosing the information, if the employee is at risk of imminent harm.

No Retaliation

Like many rights provided to employees under federal law, it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against the employee, because the employee exercised his or her rights. Discrimination can include things like denying privileges, or passing over the employee for promotions or career advancement opportunities.

Employees who feel that they were discriminated against because they utilized their rights under the domestic violence law, can sue their employers.

Because the law is not one that is well known and because we don’t think of domestic violence victims as a “protected class,” the way we would minorities or those with disabilities, the law is often overlooked by companies and employers. Training and inclusion of this information in company handbooks and policies and procedures, is a necessity.

Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help with your labor and employment law questions or problems.




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