Accommodation for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking Handbook Statement: California

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include

California employers regardless of size should include this statement in their handbook to educate employees on the availability of reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and to show their compliance with California law.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Accommodation for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

[Company Name] will make reasonable accommodations for any employee who reports that he or she is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and requests that the Company accommodate his or her safety while at work, unless providing the accommodation will impose an undue hardship on the company's business operations or violates the company's duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees.

Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to: a transfer; reassignment; modified work schedule; change in work telephone number; change in work station; installed lock; assistance in documenting domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other crime that occurs at the workplace; implemented safety procedures; or any other adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility or work requirement in response to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other crime, or referral to a victim assistance organization. The Company will engage in a timely, good-faith and interactive process with the employee to identify effective reasonable accommodations.

Employees may also be entitled to a leave of absence under the company's Crime Victim Leave policy and should consult that policy and/or Human Resources [or insert name/contact details for appropriate company representative or department] for additional information.

The Company may request that an employee provide a written statement signed by the employee (or an individual acting on behalf of the employee) certifying that the requested accommodation is for the employee's safety while at work. The Company may also require an employee to provide a certification that the employee is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and may request recertification every six months. Any of the following will be considered sufficient certification: a police report indicating the employee was a victim; a court order protecting or separating the employee from the perpetrator, or other evidence from the court or prosecuting attorney that the employee has appeared in court; documentation from a licensed medical professional, domestic violence counselor, sexual assault counselor, victim advocate, licensed health care provider or counselor that the employee was undergoing treatment or receiving services for physical or mental injuries; or any other form of documentation that reasonably verifies that the incident occurred, including but not limited to, a written statement signed by the employee, or an individual acting on the employee's behalf, certifying that the absence is for an authorized purpose.

Employees must notify the Company if their needs change or if they no longer need an accommodation.

The Company will keep all information submitted in connection with an employee's request for an accommodation confidential to the extent permissible by law. If the law requires disclosure of information, the Company will notify the employee before any information is released.

The Company will not discriminate or retaliate against any employee because of the individual's status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, if the employee provides the Company notice of such status, the Company has actual knowledge of such status or the employee requests a reasonable accommodation in accordance with this policy.

Employees who have questions about this policy or who wish to request a reasonable accommodation under this policy should contact their Human Resources representative [or insert name/contact details for appropriate company representative or department].

Guidance for Employers

  • Employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee who reports that he or she is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and who requests assistance (i.e., an accommodation) to remain safe while at work. However, employers do not have to provide accommodations that impose an undue hardship on their business operations or violate their duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees.
  • Employers are not required to provide a reasonable accommodation if the employee does not disclose his or her status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Once an employee requests an accommodation, the employer should be prepared to engage in a timely, good-faith interaction with the employee (i.e., the interactive process) to determine what if any accommodation is needed.
  • Employers should have a process to review accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis, including any specific dangers facing a particular employee.
  • As part of the interactive process, an employer may require a written statement signed by the employee or the employee's designee that the accommodation is for the employee's safety while at work. The employer may also require certification demonstrating that the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Such certification can include a police report; a court order; documentation from a medical professional, domestic violence counselor, sexual assault counselor, victim advocate, licensed health care provider or counselor; or any other form of documentation that provides reasonable verification, including a written statement signed by the employee or an individual acting on the employee's behalf.
  • If an employer requires certification that the accommodation is for the employee's safety while at work, the employer may require recertification every six months after the date of the previous certification.
  • If circumstances change or end with respect to the need for a reasonable accommodation, the employee should inform the employer.
  • Develop procedures to ensure information connected to an employee's request for an accommodation or status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking is kept confidential unless disclosure is required by law. Such procedures should include a method to notify an employee when information must be disclosed in accordance with the law.
  • Review current workplace safety procedures and train all employees on these procedures.
  • Employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking may also be entitled to a leave of absence under a California law that provides leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, crime or abuse.
  • Employers should also be aware that California employers are required to provide paid sick and safe time to employees who meet certain eligibility requirements and that employees must be allowed to use this time for reasons related to being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Supervisors should be trained regarding how to identify and respond to requests for an accommodation so that they do not take any adverse actions (e.g., termination, demotion) against employees who are eligible for and who request or take an accommodation. Supervisors should also be trained on how to handle these matters with discretion and confidentiality.
  • If you have concerns that a perpetrator of domestic or other violence may pose a threat to company employees or the workplace, contact the police and legal counsel for advice regarding appropriate security measures.

Additional Resources

Crime Victim Leave Handbook Statement [1-24 Employees]: California

Crime Victim Leave Handbook Statement [25+ Employees]: California

Paid Sick and Safe Time Handbook Statement [Accrual Method]: California

Paid Sick and Safe Time Handbook Statement [Lump Sum Method]: California