Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking face increased instability when trying to escape abuse. This often impacts their employment. As a result, survivors can face unique obstacles and may need to plan for their safety at work, seek adjustments to their work schedule or office space, take time off to appear in court or secure childcare. Many risk losing their jobs at a time when their financial independence is paramount. Recognizing these challenges, states and territories are increasingly enacting laws that provide survivors employment protections.
This guide outlines applicable protections in each state, district, or territory within the following four categories:
- Anti-discrimination protections that typically prohibit discrimination either based on status as a survivor or for taking leave to address abuse;
- reasonable accommodation protections that allow employees to request certain adjustments at work to address abuse;
- leave protections, which allow eligible employees to take paid or unpaid time off for certain reasons; and
- unemployment insurance eligibility protections, which allow survivors to qualify for unemployment even if they voluntarily leave their jobs to address abuse.
State, district, or territory-level protections vary significantly. Some have enacted protections in all four categories while others have yet to enact any employment protections for survivors. In addition to their rights under state law, survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking may also be eligible for certain protections under federal law. For example, a survivor may qualify to take unpaid job-protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), may qualify for protections under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or may be entitled to protections against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to federal protections, there may be local laws that apply to survivors or employer policies may provide additional protections reflected in their employee handbooks or policies.
To access this information, click on a state below for an overview of available employment protections for survivors in that state, district, or territory, or download the full report below for a compilation of protections in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Note that this resource is for informational purposes only and may not reflect new protections enacted after September 2022.
If you are a survivor in need of legal assistance, or you would like additional information, you can contact the Syms Legal Momentum Gender Equality Helpline at (1-800-649-0297), Help@LMHelpline.org, or https://www.legalmomentum.org/get-help-form.
Checklist of Considerations When Developing Employment-Related Protections for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking
As a result of reviewing every state law providing employment protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, we noticed several common legislative trends across the states. We believe there are some key changes that could be made to these laws to improve their effectiveness and make them more accessible to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Below is a compilation of our suggestions to consider when drafting or amending federal, state, or local law or drafting employee policies.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virgin Islands (U.S.)
- West Virginia
This publication was supported by Grant No. 2019-WW-AX-K002, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
- Violence Against Women and Girls
- Workplace Equality and Economic Empowerment