Press Releases

Legislation to expand Family Medical Leave Act to cover domestic violence introduced in House

Proposal would allow victims of abuse to get needed care without risking their jobs

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Washington, May 20, 2009 | HELEN MACHADO ((202) 225-1766 ) | comments

In a move to protect millions of Americans each year, Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) have introduced legislation to provide job protected leave for workers who suffer from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. H.R. 2515, the Domestic Violence Leave Act would strengthen the Family and Medical Leave Act by providing protected leave for workers to seek medical attention, obtain legal assistance, attend support groups, and participate in other activities necessitated by these crimes.

“I am proud to introduce this common sense proposal to strengthen the Family and Medical Leave Act, and ensure that survivors of abuse have time to receive the care and attention they need,” said Woolsey, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. “These women and men already have been traumatized once - under no circumstances should their pain be exacerbated by the threat of losing their jobs.”

“The Domestic Violence Leave Act builds on previous legislation that I introduced by allowing domestic violence survivors to take unpaid Family Medical Leave Act leave from their jobs to take care of necessities such as obtaining medical attention, legal assistance, or finding a safe place to live,” Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) said. “Many victims of domestic violence stay in abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their abusers. By providing greater employment protections, this legislation will assist survivors of domestic violence to break free from the cycle of abuse in their lives.”

“Those who suffer from domestic abuse clearly have the kind of crisis that the Family and Medical Leave Act was meant to ease. Expanding FMLA in this way makes sense and will help survivors take the actions needed to heal and move on with their lives. I’m proud to co-sponsor this important step forward,” Rep. Maloney said.

Each year over two million people are physically assaulted by an intimate partner, and another 1.3 million are victims of stalking. Under the bill, workers also can take job protected leave to care for a family member, which includes not only a spouse, parent, or child, but an adult child, domestic partner or child of domestic partner who is addressing the impact of these crimes.

In the event of an absence of third party documentation of abuse, a worker would be allowed to certify the requirements under the FMLA through a written statement. Finally, the legislation requires that employers keep all reports of domestic violence under the strictest confidence.

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Tags: Health