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Downing, Senate Vote to Improve Employment Rights and Safety Remedies for Victims of Domestic Violence
May 17, 2010

BOSTON – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces that the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation last Thursday establishing new employment rights for victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault
 
The bill requires employers with 50 or more employees to allow up to 15 days of leave, with or without pay, to any employee who is a victim of domestic violence or lives with a family member who is a victim of domestic violence.
 
“It’s important for victims and their families to have the time necessary to deal with trauma associated with domestic violence and any resulting medical and legal matters,” said Downing. “This legislation recognizes this and helps to make it happen.”
 
“This bill requires reasonable employer considerations to help victims recover and continue to work in the long term and make a living,” Senate President Therese Murray (D- Plymouth) said. “There are too many costs, both personally and to businesses in the form of lost jobs and diminished productivity, associated with domestic violence that can be alleviated to some degree with this legislation.”
 
Employees can use the leave to obtain medical attention, counseling, housing, protection orders and other legal assistance.
 
Employers can require employees to provide restraining orders, police reports, medical notes or other official documentation, such as a conviction record or victim advocate statement, to certify that the employee or employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence.
 
The bill requires the employer to keep all information about the employee’s leave confidential. Employees must exhaust all available leave, such as vacation and sick time, before seeking leave established under this bill; however an employer may waive this requirement.
 
The bill has support from victim advocate organizations and the business community. Jane Doe Inc. and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts had input on the legislation. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
 
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