Crime is an unfortunate fact of life in society – even the most law-abiding citizen may find themselves a victim of crime through no fault of their own. California has protected employee victims of crime or abuse from discharge, discrimination, or retaliation by their employer for many years.
2021 Changes to California‘s Protected Leave
Effective January 1, 2021, however, a new bill expands entitlement to leave for crime victims. The new law expands protected leave for employees substantially. Further, it expends the documentation an employee may use to verify the occurrence of either crime or abuse to invoke the protected leave.
Eligible Victim Defined
Under the new law, protected leave is for an employee that has been a “victim.” The term is so broad now that a “victim” entitled to leave now includes:
- A sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence victim.
- The victim of a crime which caused physical injury or which caused both mental injury and a threat of physical injury.
- Someone whose immediate family member is deceased as the direct result of a crime.
Definition of a Crime
The new law interprets “crime” broadly as well. Employees are entitled to protective leave if they are the victim of crime or public offense, no matter where it occurred, that “would constate a misdemeanor or a felony if the crime had been committed in California by a competent adult.” Whether anyone is arrested, prosecuted, or convicted of the crime does not matter.
Providing Leave to an Employer
An employee must give their employer reasonable advance notice of the intention to take time office unless it isn’t possible. However, “reasonable” isn’t defined and in the case of unscheduled absence the employee must give their employer appropriate documentation within a “reasonable time.”
Employees may provide a number of documents to entitle them to protected leave, including police reports, court orders or other evidence the employee appeared in court, documentation from a licensed professional the employee was undergoing treatment or receiving services for injures abuse from a crime, or other documentation which reasonably verifies a crime or abuse occurred.
Speak to an Attorney
For victims of crime, the aftermath can be stressful, overwhelming, and confusing. Thankfully, California seeks to protect employees who have been victimized. If you have questions on your rights to protected leave as an employee and a crime victim or have been denied protected leave, the experienced California employment lawyers at Rothschild & Alwill, APC can help. Contact us today to learn more about protected leave and have your questions answered today.