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Domestic violence law guide

Details of states' victims' rights laws vary significantly

At least 14 states, the District of Columbia and a handful of municipalities have passed laws guaranteeing domestic violence victims (and in some states, victims of assault and stalking) time off from work to seek medical, counseling or legal help; meet with law enforcement officials and participate in court hearings; and find a safe place to live, according to Legal Momentum, a women’s legal defense and education fund.

The details of the laws vary significantly. California and Illinois provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year, and Colorado and Florida only require up to three days.

Illinois’ law is among the broadest, prohibiting discrimination and retaliation against employees who are victim of domestic violence. Under the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act, employers with 15 or more employees also cannot take actions against an employee on the basis of disruptions or threatened disruptions of the workplace by someone who has committed or threatened domestic or sexual violence against the employee. The employer must make reasonable accommodations related to the violence, such as a changed telephone number, transfer, modified schedule or time off, unless such accommodation would pose an undue hardship.

Senior Editor

Mary Swanton

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