California Employers Must Provide Notice of Rights to Victims of Domestic Violence

By Oriet Cohen-Supple September 20, 2017 Posted in Articles

Stop Domestic Violence


Domestic violence continues to intrude into the workplace. As states pass laws to protect victims of domestic violence, and allow employers to seek restraining orders, employers must be aware of new laws concerning victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking ("Domestic Violence Victims").  


Existing Law

California Labor Code sections 230 and 230.1 prohibit employers from discharging, or in any manner, discriminating or retaliating against Domestic Violence Victims employees who take time off from work to get help in dealing with incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

These sections also provide that employees who are discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any manner discriminated or retaliated against because they have taken time off for this purpose are entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer, as well as appropriate equitable relief. Those employees are also allowed to file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement ("DLSE").

New Law

Effective July 1, 2017 California Labor Code Section 230.1 was amended to require California employers with at least 25 employees to give written notice to new employees and to current employees upon request, which explains the rights of Domestic Violence Victims under California law. Labor Code Section 230.1 as amended requires that the written notice must contain certain information, a summary which is provided below.

  • Right to Accommodations: Employers must provide reasonable accommodations such as a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, changed work telephone, changed work station, installed lock, assistance in documenting domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking that occurs in the workplace, an implemented safety procedure, or another adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement.
  • Right to Time Off: Domestic Violence Victims employees are permitted to take time off to protect their own or their children's health, safety or welfare; get medical attention counseling or other services for themselves or their children; and obtain a restraining order or other court order.
  • Right to use paid and unpaid leave for taking time off: Domestic Violence Victims employees may use vacation, PTO, personal leave, or paid sick leave, or take unpaid leave to get help, unless a union agreement provides otherwise.
  • Right to File a Complaint: Domestic Violence Victims employees must be notified of their right to file a complaint with the DLSE if they believe that their employer retaliates or discriminates against them for violating California Labor Code sections 230 and 230.

Steps Employers Should Take To Ensure Compliance

  • Handbook: Update the employee handbook and policies to include (among other things), an obligation by the Domestic Violence Victim employees to provide advance notice of their intention to take time off, and also provide proof or certification if the absence is unscheduled.
  • Interactive Process: Review the interactive process procedures in the Handbook(s) and policies to ensure it includes accommodations for Domestic Violence Victims. Employers may require a signed statement certifying the request is for a proper purpose. They may also request proof showing the need for an accommodation. Recertification of an employee's need for accommodation is permitted every six months.
  • Training and Education: Train and educate supervisors and managers about the rights afforded by the domestic violence law and the employer's duty to protect these rights. Supervisors are the first responders.  They must be trained (per the new law) to spot issues and take or escalate action.
  • Written Notice: Provide a copy of the required written notice to new employees on the date of hire as part of the on boarding documents, and make victims' rights policies available to current employees.  The California Labor Commissioner has provided a compliant notice located here.

Wright & Supple LLP is experienced in anti-violence and anti-domestic abuse response training for managers and supervisors.  Please contact us for training and assistance with creating and implementing your new required policy.