California’s Time Off Laws for Victims of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can wreak havoc on a survivor physically, mentally and emotionally. It can lead to the need for a change in lodging or living situation, as well as a legal battle against the perpetrator. As an employee in the State of California, you have the legal right to take time off work for all matters related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. It is within your legal rights as an employee to take time off of work, as well as to request reasonable accommodations to ensure your safety. If your employer tries to infringe upon these rights, contact a Los Angeles employee attorney for assistance.

Right to Take Time Off

It can be difficult to focus on your job as the victim of domestic violence. You may have physical injuries that need tending to, you may have concerns for the safety and welfare of your child, or you may be nervous that your abuser will show up at work. You may need psychological counseling or simply time to heal and plan your next move. California has laws in place granting you the right to take time off work for these reasons and all others connected to domestic violence or assault.

  • Receiving medical attention for physical injuries
  • Giving a statement to a police officer or detective
  • Seeing a therapist or psychologist
  • Obtaining a restraining order or court order
  • Going to a domestic violence shelter or program
  • Receiving safety planning
  • Moving into a safe house or shelter
  • Consulting with a domestic violence attorney

You will only have the right to take time off work for these reasons if you inform your employer of the situation. Notify your boss that you are experiencing domestic violence or abuse if you plan on asking for time off for this reason. Go to your company’s Human Resources Department for a confidential meeting about your situation. State law requires your employer to keep this information confidential and to grant your time off request. If you do not have personal leave, vacation time or sick leave to use, your boss must still give you the time off.

Right to Reasonable Accommodation

In addition to the right to take time off for domestic violence, you also have the right to request reasonable actions by your employer to ensure your safety while at work. Your employer can request a temporary restraining order from the courts to prevent the perpetrator from entering the premises while you are working. The law may also obligate your employer to take actions for your safety such as reassigning you to a different location, changing your work schedule, installing a lock on your office door, changing your work phone number or hiring a security guard to walk you to your car. In exchange, your employer has the right to request proof for the need for these accommodations.

Right to Be Free From Retaliation and Discrimination

Do not hesitate to talk to your employer about your needs related to domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault for fear of retaliation, discrimination or losing your job. It is against the law in California for an employer to retaliate against an employee who has come forward with information about domestic violence. Your employer lawfully cannot discriminate against you, treat you differently, spread information about your private matters, punish you or fire you for requesting time off or reasonable changes in the workplace. If you do face wrongful termination or discrimination for requesting time off, you can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office and consult with an attorney.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or battery, you have rights in the workplace in California. If your employer breaches these rights, talk to an attorney for assistance.