On July 1, a new notice requirement went into effect for California workplaces concerning the rights of victims of violence or stalking.
Under the new rule, employers with 25 or more workers must provide new employees with written notice about the legal rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to take time off for medical treatment and legal proceedings.
The notice spells out their rights under existing California law that they are entitled to take protected time off from work to do this, meaning you cannot take action against those employees for exercising their rights under the law to deal with these issues.
Under the law, affected employers must provide this information to:
- New workers when hired; and
- Current workers upon request.
The notice basically requires employers to make workers aware of their rights under existing regulations. Labor Code Section 230 requires companies to provide to an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking with time off from work to:
- Obtain a restraining order
- Appear in court
- Seek medical treatment for injuries
- Seek services from domestic violence shelters
- Seek services from programs or crisis centers
- Seek psychological counseling or safety planning services.
In addition, it requires companies with 25 or more employees to provide employees with a reasonable accommodation, when requested, for their safety at work.
Such accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- A transfer
- A reassignment
- A modified work schedule, or
- A change in work telephone number.
Employers may not terminate, threaten with termination, demote or suspend an employee because they are a victim or request to take time off to deal with these issues. In such cases, an employee can seek reinstatement, payment for lost wages and work benefits.
You can get a copy of the notice here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Victims_of_Domestic_Violence_Leave_Notice.pdf
Employment law firm Goodwin Law recommends that employers take the following actions:
- Ensure that management and supervisors are fully aware of the protections afforded to victims of domestic violence.
- Be prepared to implement the new written notice to employees at time of hire and to other employees on request as soon as the labor commissioner’s office posts a form to its website.
- Consider developing complaint notice language to be included in the company’s form offer letter or in an employee handbook update.