Employment Protections for Victims of Family Violence
- Have you experienced family violence?
- Have you missed work related to these events?
- Has your employer reprimanded you or threatened termination for missing work?
- Has your employer fired you, disciplined or threatened your employment after learning you are a victim of family violence?
If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you may have a cause of action against your employer.
Family Violence can seriously affect your personal and professional lives. Connecticut law prevents employers from terminating employees because you are a victim of family or domestic violence. The law also requires employers to permit leave for certain events relating to the domestic violence. If you believe your employer violated the law, ask yourself the following questions: Have you experienced family violence? Have you missed work related to these events? Has your employer reprimanded you or threatened termination for missing work? Has your employer fired you, disciplined or threatened your employment after learning you are a victim of family violence? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you may have a cause of action against your employer.
Violence in a relationship can have devastating personal and professional consequences. Particularly, if you are an employee who is experiencing such violence, it can jeopardize your employment. However, Connecticut law provides a number of protections for employees in this situation.
Victims of family violence are protected under two different laws. The first law prohibits an employer from firing you because you are a victim of family violence. The second law requires that your employer gives you job-protected leave and the second law prohibits your employer from firing you for being a victim of family violence.
If you need an employment law attorney in Connecticut, then contact The Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore. With offices conveniently located in Hartford and New Haven, we represent clients throughout the State of Connecticut. We are familiar with workplace laws at both the state and federal level. Call The Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore today to discuss your case.
Hartford Information Center for Employment Protections for Victims of Family Violence
- What is considered family violence?
- Can my employer discriminate against me?
- How much family violence leave am I entitled?
- Must I provide my employer proof of leave?
- Is family violence leave paid or unpaid?
- When must I file a claim?
- Where can I learn more about family violence leave?
Family violence is an incident that results in physical harm, bodily injury or assault or an act of threatened violence that constitutes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, including, but not limited to, stalking or a pattern of threatening between family or household members.
Verbal abuse or argument is considered family violence only if there is a present danger and the likelihood that physical violence will occur.
Family violence does not have to be inflicted by a relative or spouse. The law defines “family or household members” as the following relationships, regardless of the person’s age:
- Married persons
- Former spouses
- Persons related by blood or marriage
- Parents or their children
- Persons whom live together or used to live together
- Persons who have a child together, even if they have never been married or have never lived together
- Persons in a dating relationship
- Persons who have recently been in a dating relationship
- Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 46b-38a.
Under Connecticut law, it is against the law for your employer to fire you, punish you or take an adverse job action towards you because you are a victim of family violence.
If this happens you can bring a lawsuit against your employer. However, you must act quickly. A lawsuit against an employer who violates this law must be brought within 180 days from when you were terminated or suffered the adverse job action. If you bring a lawsuit and win, you are entitled civil damages, reinstatement, and attorney’s fees.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 54-85b.
Under Connecticut law, victims of family violence who work for employers with 3 or more employees are entitled to 12 days of leave per calendar year for various activities related to family violence. These activities include:
- Attending court
- Seeking medical treatment
- Seeking counseling
- Relocating due to the violence
- Meeting with a victim services organization
If you need to take leave, it is not necessary for you to take the days off consecutively. An employer may allow more than 12 days of leave per calendar year. Additionally, the 12 days of family violence leave may not affect your union, federal, or employment contract rights.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-51ss.
Informing Your Employer
Notice Of Leave
An employer may request no more than seven days’ notice for ”foreseeable” activities relating to the family violence. Generally, an activity is considered foreseeable when it occurs with some regularity. For example, a weekly counseling appointment that occurs each Monday is considered a foreseeable event. If the event is not foreseeable, you must provide notice as soon as you are aware that time off is necessary.
Your employer can require that you provide proof of your need for family violence leave. If asked by your employer, you must provide a signed written statement that certifies that your need for leave is related to family violence. An employer can also request that you provide proof in support of your leave request.
Proof may be provided in the following forms:
- Police report
- Court documents
- Written statement from a victim service organization
- Written statement from attorney or court employee associated with the Office of Victim Services or the Office of the Victim Advocate
- Written statement from doctor or licensed professional (such as a therapist, counselor or licensed social worker) from whom you have sought assistance with respect to the family violence
By law, your employer must maintain confidentiality of your request and any police reports or court documents you provide in support of your leave request unless it is required by law or out of necessity to protect your safety in the workplace to disclose them. However, your employer must give you notice prior to the disclosure.
The law does not require that leave taken under this law be paid. In order for you to be paid while out on family violence leave, you must have paid time off (vacation, personal time off, or sick leave) available. Without paid time off available, you will not be compensated for days taken off as family violence leave.
If you believe that your employer wrongly retaliated, terminated, or committed any act in violation of the family violence leave act, you may pursue a civil suit. However, you must act quickly. A suit against your employer must be brought within 180 days from the occurrence of the threat or violation. If successful, you are entitled to civil damages, reinstatement, and attorney’s fees.
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence – www.ctcadv.org – Visit the website of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence to be connected with shelters and advocates in your geographic area, as well as to learn about your legal rights in Connecticut, engage in safety planning and other helpful information.
Connecticut Law About Domestic Violence – Visit the website of the Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries to learn more about domestic violence laws in Connecticut. Find links to more information on taking time off from work for domestic violence leave.
Taking Time Off Work for Domestic Violence Leave – Visit the website for CTLawHelp.org to learn more about taking time off work because of a violent relationship. Articles on this site explain Family Violence Leave in Connecticut and help you decide whether you should ask for it. The site even has a program that will help you write a letter to your employer asking for this type of leave.
Sec. 31-51ss. Leave from employment for victims of family violence – Visit the website of the Connecticut General Assembly at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, to find the statutory language and definitions of the following terms: employer, employee, family violence, and leave. Learn more about the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers under this state law.
Sec. 54-85b. Employment protection for witnesses and victims of crime – Visit the website of the Connecticut General Assembly at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, to find the statutory language and definitions of the following terms: employer, employee, family violence, and leave. Learn more about the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers under this state law.
Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore | Family Violence Leave Attorney
You deserve to keep your job while engaging in the necessary activities to preserve your health and safety. If your employer has discriminated against you or fired you because you are a victim of family violence or if your employer retaliated against you for taking family violence leave, contact the family violence leave lawyers in Hartford and New Haven, CT, at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore. We’ll fight for you. Contact us today by filling out our online form.