California bans discrimination against victims of domestic violence

A recently enacted California law protects domestic violence victims against employment discrimination.

Because there are many types of workplace discrimination laws in effect, it is easy to get confused about which situations qualify for protection against employer discrimination. Although most people know that it is illegal to discriminate against employees based on their age, race, religion or gender, many are unaware of other protections for situations that occur less often. In California, one of such protections is protection for victims of domestic violence.

California is only one of seven states that prohibit employment discrimination against victims of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence. This protection is relatively new, as it became law in 2014.

What are the law 's protections?

Under the law, employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because he or she is a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault, if:

• The victim provides notice to the employer;

• The employer has knowledge of the employee's status as a victim; or

• The employee takes time off work to go to court and seek legal relief (e.g. restraining order)

In addition, the law also prevents employers from retaliating or discriminating against the employee if he or she requires medical attention, counseling or other related services because of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault. Also, the law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for victims that request that their personal safety be increased while they are working. Such accommodations may include transfers, schedule changes, workstation changes, installation of locks or telephone number changes. It is illegal to discriminate or retaliate against an employee who requests a reasonable accommodation.

What are the requirements for protections?

In order to receive the protections under the law, employees must provide reasonable notice of their intention to take time off, unless it is not feasible to do so. Employees may use their vacation days, personal leave or other paid time off for the permitted leave.

If the circumstances force the employee to take time off without giving prior notice, the law prohibits the employer from taking any adverse action against the employee if he or she provides certification. Under the law, such certification may include:

• Police reports showing that the employee was a victim of stalking, domestic violence or sexual assault;

• Documentation from a physician, counselor or healthcare provider showing that the victim underwent treatment because of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; or

• A court order protecting the employee from the perpetrator or other documentation proving the employee's appearance in a court proceeding relating to the matter

Under the law, employers must keep any documents related to the employee's status as a victim confidential, unless compelled by law to do otherwise.

An attorney can help

If you are fired because of your status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault, or because you exercised your rights under the law, you may be entitled to seek compensation in a wrongful termination lawsuit for your past and future lost wages and emotional distress. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. If your employer has violated the law, but has not fired you, there are other legal and administrative remedies available to you. The experienced employment law attorneys at the Armstrong Law Firm can evaluate your claim and work on your behalf to protect your rights and obtain all compensation due to you under the law.

Keywords: discrimination, domestic violence, employment discrimination , California, attorney, wrongful termination, administrative remedies ,