Expansion of Employment Protections for Employees Who Are Crime Victims, Including Obligations to Provide Reasonable Accommodations


Existing laws prohibit an employer from discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault for taking time off from work in connection with court proceedings or to seek medical attention and other specified services as a result of these crimes against them.

Senate Bill 400 extends these time-off protections to employees who are victims of stalking. In addition, the new law prohibits discharge, discrimination, and retaliation against employees because of their status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking if the employee/victim provides notice to the employer or the employer has actual knowledge of this status.

In addition, Senate Bill 400 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and request an accommodation for their safety while at work. The law states that reasonable accommodations may include the implementation of safety measures, including: a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, changed work telephone, changed work station, installed lock, assistance in documenting domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking that occurs in the workplace, an implemented safety procedure, or another adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement in response to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or referral to a victim assistance organization.

In accordance with reasonable accommodation procedures under disability discrimination laws, Senate Bill 400 requires the employer to engage in a timely, good faith inactive process with the employee to determine effective reasonable accommodations and does not require the employer to undertake any action that would constitute undue hardship.

An employer may request an employee to provide a written certification that the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, and that the requested accommodation is for the safety of the victim while at work. Any documentation provided to an employer identifying an employee as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking must be kept confidential and not disclosed by the employer except as required by law or necessary for the safety of employees in the workplace. The employer must give the employee notice before any disclosure of the information is made.

Employees are required to notify their employer when an accommodation is no longer needed. The employee may request a new accommodation based on changed circumstances, and in such a case, the employer must repeat the interactive process with the employee.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has requested a reasonable accommodation, whether the request was granted or not. Senate Bill 400 authorizes reinstatement, back pay, and injunctive relief for violations of the law.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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