Domestic Violence Awareness at Work
Domestic violence is an epidemic in this country. It permeates every facet of our society including the NFL and federal judiciary. When domestic violence becomes a workplace issue, what’s an employer to do? No more business as usual, according to the American Bar Association and Florida Legislature. Employers have ethical and legal obligations to proactively address the needs of employee-victims and hold accountable employee-perpetrators.
In August 2014, the ABA approved a model policy on employer responses to domestic violence issues that affect the workplace. The stated purpose is to encourage all employers “to enact formal policies on the workplace responses to domestic violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking violence which address prevention and remedies, provide assistance to employees who experience violence, and hold accountable employees who perpetuate violence.” Among other things, the model policy prevents employment discrimination and retaliation against employee-victims and provides leave, accommodation, reemployment assistance, and other workplace assistance to employee-victims. It emphasizes the need for employer confidentiality and support in enforcement of protection and restraining orders.
In Florida, employers with 50 more employees must provide leave to allow employee-victims to seek an injunction, obtain medical care or victim services, secure safe housing, and seek legal assistance related to domestic violence. § 741.313, Florida Statutes (2014). Further, information related to this leave must be kept confidential.
Florida employers with 50 or more employees should have a policy that addresses domestic violence. While we do not recommend wholesale adoption of the ABA’s voluntary model policy, an employer’s consideration of this policy is an important first step to raising awareness and addressing workplace consequences related to domestic violence.