SAFE Act: Employee Rights for Domestic Violence Victims
The legal and personal issues that go along with being a victim of domestic violence can be overwhelming. As a result, many victims find that their work lives suffer while they are recovering from the trauma of domestic violence.
To address this issue, New Jersey lawmakers passed the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act to allow victims to address their domestic violence situations while maintaining employment security. The SAFE Act, which took effect on October 1, 2013, requires New Jersey employers with 25 or more regular employees to provide up to 20 days of unpaid but job-protected leave for domestic violence victims to address any of the following:
- To seek medical attention for one’s self, child, parent, spouse or domestic partner
- To obtain services from a victims organization or to help a relative do so
- To obtain psychological counseling or care for one’s self or relative
- To relocate or take other actions to secure safety for one’s self or relative
- To seek legal assistance for one’s self or relative
- To attend or participate in criminal or civil court proceedings stemming from domestic violence against one’s self or relative
The SAFE Act prohibits employers from discharging, harassing or demoting employees based on their status as domestic violence victims. Unfortunately, some employers may be slow to recognize their obligations under the SAFE Act. Fortunately, New Jersey’s community of employment discrimination lawyers is ready to assist domestic violence victims and their families in asserting their workplace rights.