If I have to miss work due to a domestic violence legal proceeding, can I be fired?
No. If you are the victim of a domestic violence crime, there is a criminal law that forbids an employer from punishing you for missing work for any of the following reasons:
- to testify in the criminal case;
- to meet with a district attorney about a criminal case; or
- to seek an order of protection in criminal or family court.1
The law requires employers, with prior day notification, to allow time off for victims or witnesses of domestic violence to pursue these legal actions. However, the employer can ask for proof from the district attorney or the court staff that you were present in court that day and why you where there. Therefore, it is a good idea to ask for a letter or other proof while you are in court. Note: The employer does not have to pay you for the time missed.1
If the employer does fire you or punish you for missing work, you can contact the police since s/he may actually be committing a crime for which s/he can be arrested. Additionally, you may be able to file a claim with the NYS Division of Human Rights, because this behavior could also qualify as discrimination. See Can an employer fire me or refuse to hire me based on the fact that I am a victim of domestic violence? for more information.
Note: Even if you are not the victim of the crime but you have been subpoenaed (ordered) by the court to testify at a trial, this law applies to you as well.1
1 NY Penal Law § 215.14