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Victims of Domestic Violence Could Take FMLA Leave Under Proposed Bill

Coinciding with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, a California Congresswoman is reintroducing legislation that would assist victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Leave Act would allow employees to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to address incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking – whether directed at themselves, a spouse (including domestic partner and same-sex spouse), parent or child.

FMLA leave could be used for a variety of reasons:

  • Seek medical attention for injuries
  • Obtain legal assistance
  • Participate in a legal proceeding
  • Attend support groups or therapy
  • Participate in safety planning


The affected employee could substitute paid leave for the leave available under this bill. And while an employer would be entitled to obtain certification that the employee is taking the FMLA leave for legitimate reasons, the employer would be held to strict confidentiality standards.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey pointed out that domestic violence is a widespread problem in our country, emphasizing that her bill “ensures that those who have suffered abuse have the time to recover, physically and emotionally, without losing their job or forfeiting the income that supports them and their family.”

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