Prior to AB 2337, a law that expands the rights of certain employees, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking were protected if:
- their employers retaliated against them,
- they took time off,
- they requested reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, or
- sought equitable relief from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement as it related to their abuse, assault, or stalking.
Things are changing, however, and, with the approval of AB 2337, victims now receive more extensive protection and information.
As of July 1, 2017, AB 2337, section 230.1 of the Labor Code will require an employer with twenty-five or more employees to refrain from discharging, discriminating against, or retaliating against an employee for taking time off of work to address their domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. Additionally, the bill requires employers to inform employees about their rights upon their request and inform new employees of their rights in writing.
Among other things, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking have the right to take time off in order to get help to protect themselves or their children’s health, safety, or welfare. Furthermore, it does not matter if the victim provides notice prior to taking time off work, the employer cannot discipline the victim if they give proof of a valid reason for absence within a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable proof includes a police report, court order, doctor’s note, or a counselor’s note. However, in general, the victim does not have to give the employer proof in order to utilize their time off for to address their domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Moreover, victims will now have the right to ask their employer for assistance or changes in their workplace to ensure their safety at work. Regardless of whether the appropriate change is additional locks, a shift change, or a change in phone number, the employer must work with the victim to assess what changes can be made. In these situations, privacy is of the utmost importance and employers cannot tell other co-workers or other individuals about the victim’s request.
Lastly, victims have the right to be free from retaliation and discrimination. In other words, a victim may not be treated differently or let go from their position because they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; asked for a leave to receive help; or asked for help or workplace accommodations to ensure their safety at work.
To discuss updating your business’s work environment to fit this changing landscape, contact experienced employment attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.
 Legislative Counsel’s Digest, A.B. 2016 Session (C.A. 2017) http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2337
 See id.