NYSCADV MEMORANDUM OF SUPPORT
(click on memo title above for pdf version)
A. 272 Weinstein / S.2027 Hassell-Thompson
Leave from work is often essential for survivors of domestic violence to access services that will help them achieve safety and independence from their abusers. NYSCADV urges the New York State Legislature to strengthen and expand upon existing employment protections by providing reasonable accommodations for survivors of domestic violence to take crucial leave.
Victims of domestic violence face many barriers when trying to escape from the web of power and control abusers trap them in. Employment is often a critical part of developing and sustaining the economic independence that is necessary for survivors to become safely free from abuse. However, a vital component to employment protection is still missing from New York law. Currently, victims of domestic violence do not have the right to take leave from work to access medical, counseling, legal or advocacy services without risking job loss.
In 2009, victims of domestic violence became a protected class in the employment provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law. This protection prevents employers from firing or refusing to hire an individual based on their status as a victim of domestic violence. It also protects against discriminatory terms, conditions or privileges of employment and against discriminatory pay rates for victims of domestic violence.
STRENGTHENING EMPLOYMENT PROTECTIONS
This bill would strengthen Human Rights Law by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence who must take leave from work to tend to issues that are directly related to being abused. (This law makes accommodations for employers who can demonstrate providing leave to a victim of domestic violence would cause an undue hardship to the employer.)
Employers would be required to allow employees to be absent from work to:
- Seek medical attention for injuries to the employee or their child caused by domestic violence*;
- Obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center as a result of the domestic violence;
- Obtain psychological counseling related to the domestic violence for the employee or the employee’s child*;
- Participate in safety planning and taking other actions to increase safety from future incidents of domestic violence, including temporary or permanent relocation;
- Obtain legal services, assisting in the prosecution of the offense, or appearing in court in relation to the domestic violence incident(s).
(*This accommodation does not apply if the employee is the perpetrator of the domestic violence against the child.)
This bill also strengthens existing law by detailing that it is illegal to:
- Refuse to hire, employ, license, bar, or discharge someone because they are a victim of domestic violence
- Inquire if an employee or an applicant is a victim of domestic violence unless that inquiry is for providing assistance to, or making reasonable accommodations for, a victim of domestic violence
THIS MEASURE IS NEEDED TO HELP SURVIVORS ACHIEVE INDEPENDENCE FROM THEIR ABUSERS
Abusers’ harassment and violence, as well as the aftermath thereof, commonly intrude upon the workplace, interfering directly and indirectly with a survivor’s ability to meet job expectations. Disruptions with childcare, transportation, sleep patterns, and other kinds of self-care associated with abusers’ tactics can negatively impact timeliness, attendance, concentration and performance. Survivors have both immediate and long-term needs that may require medical or supportive services; children of domestic violence victims sometimes need special assistance in coping with the aftermath of domestic violence; and many survivors must go through a lengthy legal process on behalf of themselves and/or their children. As many as 96% of victims of domestic violence have work related problems (1) and as many as 27% of victims of domestic violence reported job loss as a direct result of domestic violence (2).
Financial independence is key to long-term safety for survivors and their children, and being able to secure and keep employment is critical to financial independence. Promoting and protecting the economic viability of survivors supports their efforts to gain independence from abusers.
Passing this legislation takes a meaningful step toward improving the economic security of victims of domestic violence.
(1)American Institute on Domestic Violence. (2001). Domestic Violence in the Workplace Statistics. Retrieved March 2015 from www.aidv-usa.com/statistics.htm
(2) Swanberg, J.E., Logan, T.K., & Macke, C. (2006). The consequences of partner violence on employment and the workplace. In Kelloway, E.K., Barling, J., & Hurrell, Jr., J.J. (Eds.) Handbook of Workplace Violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.