Changing Federal Statutory Proposals to Address Domestic Violence at Work
52 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2010
Date Written: March 8, 2008
Domestic violence impacts America’s workplaces. Individuals subjected to abuse, their coworkers, and other third parties all suffer consequences as a result of domestic violence that occurs or spills over into the workplace. Employees experience decreased productivity during and after actual or threatened violence and may require time off from work to address safety concerns, medical needs, and legal issues. Employers also need to address the consequences of domestic violence. They are faced with significant economic losses from lost productivity, administrative difficulties when employees take unplanned time off, increased medical costs and insurance premiums, and the threat of liability for firing employees experiencing domestic violence in hopes of maintaining a safe workplace or failing to adopt and/or enforce appropriate domestic violence prevention policies.
Two pending federal bills attempt to address a real need of employees by providing victims of domestic violence with, among other things, up to 30 days of unpaid job protected leave. But they provide employers little or no assistance in addressing the effects domestic violence has on the employers. This article proposes ways to amend these bills to provide a societal response to the problem of domestic violence at work. Three proposals to change the bills are discussed: (1) reframing the bill to reflect the effect on employers and society; (2) providing employers with the ability to go to court to seek a protection order; and (3) creating a refundable tax credit to recoup a percentage of costs related to prevention, education, and safety policies and programs. Together, these changes could have a significant impact on the potential of these bills to transform the normative response to domestic violence at work and address the very real public ramifications of domestic violence on both employees and employers.
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