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Connecticut Employers Must Now Provide Family Violence Leave

Effective October 1, 2010, Connecticut employers with 3 or more employees must provide employees with up to 12 days of unpaid leave to deal with domestic violence.  Employees may take leave to seek medical care for injuries, psychological care or counseling, to obtain services from an organization helping victims of domestic violence, to move to a new home, or to participate in a criminal or civil case involving domestic violence.  The leave can be taken by an employee who is a direct victim, or an employee who needs to help family or household members who are victims.  Verbal abuse alone is not enough.  The abuse has to present a danger and there must be a likelihood of physical violence.

Employers can require that the employee provide certification that the employee is in fact a victim of domestic violence, either in the form of a sworn statement by the employee or records from an attorney, a police investigation, court records, a medical professional, or a victim’s services organization.  Any records kept by the employer must be held strictly confidential.  Employers can require up to 7 days notice, but if the employee is unable to give such advanced notice, they must only give notice as soon as reasonably possible.  The leave can be paid but payment is not required.

The statute prohibits retaliation against an employee who asks for or takes such leave.  An employee can bring a civil action against the employer for damages along with equitable relief, such as reinstatement of their job. 

Other states already have similar laws, including Illinois, Florida, Washington and California.  In the face of this new law, Connecticut employers should create a family violence leave policy and solidify what certification and notification process they will require.  These steps will ensure the evenhanded application of family violence leave among all employees. 

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying and remaining up to date with state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0565.