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Employment rights of victims of domestic violence

Many residents of Maryland understand that employment discrimination is illegal in almost every form. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of race, nationality, gender, age, and disability among other things. One of the lesser understood types of workplace discrimination is that which affects victims of domestic violence.

Here in Maryland, victims of domestic violence do have a number of employment protections. While victims of domestic violence are not specifically protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they may be protected under the umbrella of a number of employment laws.

The following are a number of employment rights that may be beneficial to victims of domestic abuse:

  • Time off: Victims of domestic violence who need time off of work may be able to take a job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law allows covered employees to take time off if they are suffering from physical injuries or illnesses or mental trauma.
  • Unemployment: Some victims of domestic violence are forced to quit their jobs, because their continued employment may jeopardize their safety. When this is the case, victims of domestic violence can collect unemployment in Maryland. It is necessary to have a protective order in place or a police record to document the domestic violence, however.
  • Discrimination: When victims of domestic violence are discriminated against, they may be able to hold their employer accountable under various laws. For example, those with disabilities caused by domestic violence are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination on the basis of gender. A person might have a gender-based claim if female workers are not allowed to leave work to obtain protective orders but male employees are allowed to leave work for child support proceedings, for example.

These are just a few employment tips for victims of domestic violence. The focus of victims, of course, should be getting and keeping safe and it may be wise to work with domestic violence victims' advocates to achieve this.

Source: CBS News, "What do you tell your boss when you're leaving your abuser?" April 8, 2013

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Domestic Violence and Your Job," Maryland State Law Library, 2010

  • Our employment law firm helps people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area with a variety of employment law concerns, including discrimination claims and Family and Medical Leave Act issues as discussed above.

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