California employers offer family and medical leave, sick leave, military leave and many other accommodations in emergencies or times of need. But what most California employees don’t know is that California law protects employees from domestic violence leave as well. 

Know Your Rights

California Labor Code Section 230.1 prohibits a company with larger than 25 employees from discharging, discriminating, unlawfully terminating, or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence. This includes allowing employees to take unpaid time off from work to address domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Under California Law, employees are legally allowed to take time off of work for legal proceedings or to seek medical attention for any injuries they suffered from a sexual assault or domestic violence dispute. Employees are entitled to unpaid time off of work to obtain services from a mental health provider, crisis center, or domestic violence shelter. In addition, employees cannot be denied time off to participate in safety planning or defense classes for sexual assault and domestic violence.

Not only are employees entitled to take time off for domestic violence leave, but they are also entitled for reasonable accommodations for their safety while at their place of work.

Your Employer’s Responsibility

Victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse often have a hard time focusing or being mentally stable at work. It’s estimated that domestic violence victims lose over 100 hours of work time per year, and more than 30,000 jobs are lost because of some domestic violence-related issue. Not only do victims take time off to seek medical attention, court dates or relocate, but sometimes they are physically unable to get themselves to work in the first place. Domestic violence abusers can take away transportation, sabotage child care arrangements or leave them without any money to get by.

It’s important for employers to be understanding in these sensitive situations and proceed with caution when having conversations with their employees who have been victims of domestic abuse or assault. In addition, employers should do their best to ensure that victims of domestic violence or sexual assault feel comfortable and safe in the workplace.

Talking about being a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault can be uncomfortable and it is ultimately your decision whether or not you disclose that information with your employer. If you do decide to disclose your situation with your boss, know that this information has to legally remain confidential.

You Are Not Alone

There are many others who have been in your shoes, so there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed.  If you are considered about your safety or your situation is effected your productivity at work, call your local hotline, mental health professional, or notify authorities. If you or loved one have been a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking there is plenty of help out there for you