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Know the Laws: California

UPDATED January 2, 2017

Workplace Protections

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California state law provides employment protections for domestic violence victims who need to take time off from work to handle issues related to domestic violence.

What your employer can and cannot do

back to topI am afraid that my employer will harass me or tell other co-workers about my situation if I take time off to deal with domestic violence. Is this legal?

No.  Your employer cannot fire you, threaten to fire you, harass you, put you at a lower-ranked position, suspend you, or punish you in any way for asking for this time off or for taking this time off.*  Also, the law requires your employer to keep your domestic violence or sexual violence situation private (confidential).  For example, your employer cannot tell your co-workers, your clients, or other employers that you took time off to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault.  Your employer also cannot disclose (talk about or write about) the reason for your time off.  They must also keep private any documents that you give them that relate to your domestic violence or sexual assault situation.**

* Ann.Cal.Labor Code §§ 230(c) & (e) & 230.1(a) & (c)
** Ann.Cal.Labor Code §§ 230 (d)(3) & 230.1(b)(3)

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back to topAfter taking time off from work under this law, I was one of many people laid off by my employer. Is this legal?

The law says that your employer cannot fire you or punish you, because you took off time from work to address your domestic violence issues.*  However, your employer can still fire you or punish you for other valid reasons (such as budget cuts, not doing your job well, or reasons that have nothing to do with your domestic violence situation).

Note: Sometimes, an employer will offer a “fake” reason for firing someone, to hide the real reason.  If you have facts or evidence that (1) your employer is not being truthful about why they fired you, and (2) that the real reason they fired you was because you took off time for domestic violence related issues, then you might want to contact an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination or the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission

* Ann.Cal.Labor Code § 230(c) & 230.1(a)

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