On October 12, the EEOC issued guidance titled “Questions and Answers: The Application of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act to Applicants or Employees Who Experience Domestic or Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking.” The guidance recognizes that federal EEO laws do not prohibit discrimination on these bases, per se, but explains how these laws may apply to such situations. Examples include:
- A manager fires a female employee after learning she was subjected to domestic violence because he fears the "potential drama battered women bring to the workplace.”
- An employer refuses to allow an employee extra time off work for treatment of anxiety or depression resulting from domestic violence.
But do you know that Kansas law specifically allows employees to take time off work to deal with the effects of domestic violence or sexual assault? Kansas employers are required to allow employees time off from work:
- To obtain restraining orders or other injunctive relief in domestic violence or sexual assault situations;
- To seek medical attention for injuries caused by domestic violence or sexual assault; or
- To obtain services from a domestic violence or sexual assault center shelter.
An employee should give the employer reasonable advance notice of the intention to take time off under this law, unless such notice is not feasible.The employer can require the employee, within 48 hours after returning from the requested time off, to provide documentation substantiating the need for leave, such as a police report, a court order, or medical documentation.
But the Kansas domestic violence law does not prescribe any particular penalty for employers that violate it. In addition, the law does not explain how an employee can enforce these rights. In fact, the law does not even provide for a civil claim or state that any state administrative body has authority to enforce it.
Kansas unemployment insurance law also has special provisions to protect employees who experience domestic violence. The law provides that employees who leave work as a result of domestic violence are entitled to unemployment benefits, but employers will not be charged for such benefits. Further, unemployment benefits cannot be denied to an employee who fails to accept an offer of employment when the position does not reasonably accommodate the person’s physical, psychological, safety, and/or legal needs related to the domestic violence.