OCTOBER: NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

& Lana L. Rupprecht, Esq. - Director, Product Compliance

October 20, 2021

 

In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Despite increased awareness of this issue, the following statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence are troubling:

  • More than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually.
  • If each of these adults experienced only once incidence of violence, an adult in the US would experience violence every three seconds.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Leave Laws Protecting Domestic Violence Victims

U.S. jurisdictions continue to add laws mandating job-protected leave of absence and providing employment protections when an employee or a family or household member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence such as Missouri, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington. We’ve previously written about these domestic violence leave laws, herehere and here. In addition, and more recently, U.S. jurisdictions are also providing employees with paid time off through their family and medical leave legislation. 

Although these laws vary, the types of activities protected by these laws typically include getting medical attention, attending counseling sessions, seeking legal assistance, attendance in court proceedings, communicating with an attorney, and/or relocating to a permanent or temporary residence.  

In addition, do not forget that in some situations, leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also be available to employees and their family members to address certain health-related issues resulting from domestic violence. As noted by the Department of Labor in a FAQ, “An eligible employee may take FMLA leave because of his or her own serious health condition or to care for a qualifying family member with a serious health condition that resulted from domestic violence. For example, an eligible employee may be able to take FMLA leave if he or she is hospitalized overnight or is receiving certain treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from domestic violence.”  See FMLA Frequently Asked Questions | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)

How to stay on top of this Information

This is a lot of information and difficult for employers to keep up with – especially multi-jurisdictional employers.  To assist you, Matrix has created a table summarizing key portions of the domestic violence leave laws. This table provides a one-stop-shop for you to track the growing number of jurisdictions offering this type of leave and provides an overview of their requirements.  Matrix administers all of these laws for our leave of absence clients.

In addition to the specific “personal protection” leave (paid or unpaid) laws identified in this table, a number of states and municipalities have also enacted paid sick time laws containing “safe time” provisions to protect workers.  A good resource for state and municipal paid sick time laws can be found at A Better Balance.  The chart includes the following specific line item for each paid sick law:  “Can sick time be used for specific ‘safe time’ purposes (related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking)?”

MATRIX CAN HELP!   At Matrix we’re always monitoring state legislatures to keep an eye on the state leave landscape. Our trained staff of absence management experts specialize in understanding the intersection of state and federal leave protections. We take various steps to maintain an employee’s (or victim’s) privacy and safety. For example, we administer these domestic and sexual violence laws under the name “Personal Protected Leave.” For more information about our leave management and accommodation solutions, contact your Matrix/Reliance Standard account manager now, or send us a message at ping@matrixcos.com