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California Adds New Notice Requirement for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Victims

Employers, another notice provision has taken effect in California. Beginning on July 1, 2017, employers with at least 25 employees must now provide written notice to new employees that explain the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. More specifically, the required notice mandates employers notify new employees of their rights under Labor Code Sections 230 and 230.1. These sections detail the following points:

  • Employees have the right under Labor Code Section 230.1 to take time off to protect their own or their children’s health, safety, or welfare, to obtain a restraining order or other court order, or to get medical attention, counseling or other services for themselves or their children. Employees may use unpaid or paid leave including vacation, PTO, personal leave or paid sick leave. Employers should also be reminded that if an employee chooses to use the California sick leave time off, an employer cannot ask questions on the reason for the time off.
  • Employers are prohibited from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against any employee who is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking who uses time off as noted in Section 230.1.
  • Employers must engage in the interactive process with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, and that process must be done on a confidential basis. Further, an employer may be required to provide other safety measures, including but not limited to, a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, changes in phone numbers/work stations, or locks. It is highly recommended the employer maintain written documentation of all discussions regarding the interactive process.
  • Employers must notify their employees they have a right to file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement if the employer retaliates or discriminates against him/her.

To assist employers with compliance, the California Labor Commission has posted a sample form employers Domestic Violence Ribbonmay use that complies with the new law. Alternatively, an employer may use their own, but an employer-created notice should be similar to the sample form in content and clarity. Failure to include the requisite information will place the employer in non-compliance.

Employers should also note that while it is not required to provide notice to current employees, it is required if a current employee requests the information. In order to ensure 100% compliance, it is recommended that every employer update its employee handbook so every employee has notice. In addition, it is also highly recommended that HR staff as well as supervisors are trained in what to do in these type of situations to ensure the employer is in compliance.

If you have questions about this blog or about your Employee Handbook, please  reach out to Mellissa Schafer or your regular Hinshaw attorney. Mellissa and others at Hinshaw regularly review and audit employee handbooks for their clients