HOUSTON, Texas. In the U.S., it is up to each state to determine whether it will provide paid or unpaid leave to victims of domestic violence. In Texas, employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid leave to domestic violence victims. The lack of paid or unpaid leave for domestic violence victims can be another barrier that prevents victims from leaving an abusive situation. According to the Atlantic, as many as 60% of domestic violence victims lose their jobs.
When it comes to protecting domestic violence victims, not all states and cities are equal. In Washington, D.C. for example, workers are provided seven days of “Sick and Safe Leave.” Yet, in many states and cities, if you are fired for taking time off to escape an unsafe situation at home, you can be fired, and victims may have no recourse to sue for lost wages.
The cycle of domestic abuse and emotional violence can already inject havoc into a woman’s life. Abusers have been known to harass their partners on the job. They have been known to keep a woman up all night, making it difficult for her to function at work. They may even try to interfere with a woman’s childcare plans. For women leaving an abusive situation, having a job means financial independence. The loss of a job can make an impossible situation unbearable. Many women suffering from domestic violence suffer financial abuse as well. Losing a job could mean losing the financial means to pay for a separate apartment, pay for childcare, and pay for the counseling and support services she’ll need to escape.
Paid or unpaid leave can also give a woman time to file a protective order and go to court, if needed. Victims may also need time to seek medical attention or psychological counseling due to the seen and unseen wounds of domestic violence. To make matters more complicated, women may not want to reveal that they are experiencing domestic violence because they fear bias.
Domestic violence is not an isolated issue. According to the American Bar, one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence over the course of her life.
While there are no explicit laws on the books to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence, women who have been abused may be able to use FMLA to protect themselves. Under FMLA, women may be able to use their leave to care for a child injured due to domestic violence and abuse, or to seek medical care for their own physical or mental injuries. Some states may also have “crime victim leave” laws that could protect victims of crimes in their personal lives.
If you have lost your job because you have had to take time off from work to escape the cycle of violence, you may have certain rights under the law. As more women speak up in the Me Too movement, workplaces are finally being held accountable for how they treat women on the job and how they treat women when they need time away from work to escape the cycle of abuse. Moore & Associates are employment lawyers in Houston, Texas who can review the circumstances of your termination and fight for your rights either inside or outside of court. Visit us at https://www.mooreandassociates.net/ to learn more.
Moore & Associates
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675
Houston, TX 77002