Employment Rights for Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence

Several states have enacted laws that provide domestic violence victims (and in some states, victims of sexual assault and stalking) time off from work to address the violence in their lives and/or that protect victims from employment discrimination related to the violence. The details of each state's laws vary significantly. Some states that have not passed domestic violence leave laws have paid sick leave laws or crime victim protection laws that prohibit an employer from firing crime victims who take time off from work to appear in criminal court.

In addition to rights under these state laws, victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault may be able to take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or under comparable state or local laws. For more on FMLA protections, see Legal Momentum's Know Your Rights guide, "Medical Leave for Survivors and Family Members". A victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking who is fired or otherwise discriminated against at work may also have rights under sex discrimination laws or wrongful discharge laws. For more information, see Legal Momentum's Know Your Rights guide, "Employment Discrimination Against Abused Women".

This guide is divided into two main sections. The first section outlines existing laws. The second section outlines proposed legislation on this topic. Each of these sections is further divided into those laws or bills specific to domestic violence and those laws or bills that relate to crime victims more generally.