‘Tis the season for new employment laws in California.  The governor has until September 30th to sign or veto many pending bills on his desk.  So, this blog may be the first of several updates in the coming weeks.

Issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are all over the news.  While existing law provides protected time off to victims of domestic violence, apparently many workers and employers are not aware of those rights.  According to a study by the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center, nearly 40% of survivors in the state reported being fired or fearing termination due to intimate partner violence.

To address this issue, on September 14th the governor signed AB 2337 a bill that requires employers of 25 or more to provide notice to employees of their rights to take protected time off for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.  This new bill requires employers to “inform each employee of his or her rights” upon hire and at any time thereafter upon request.  The Labor Commissioner will develop a form for these purposes and publish it by July 1, 2017.

Copyright: art1980 / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: art1980 / 123RF Stock Photo

Until then employers should have a provision in their handbook setting forth existing rights to take time off for the following issues that arise from being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including:

  • To seek medical attention for injuries;
  • To obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center;
  • To obtain psychological counseling;
  • To participate in safety planning and take related actions (such as temporary or permanent relocation).

Employers should also make sure that managers understand employee rights to such time off (and to use available vacation and/or sick time for such purposes), and are trained to forward such sensitive issues to Human Resources to address any employee concerns about retaliation for actually taking the time to address such serious personal matters.