The unfortunate reality is that anyone can become a victim of illegal acts such as domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. Victims of these crimes may requirement several different kinds of assistance from medical doctors, therapists or psychiatrists, law enforcement, etc. Working with law enforcement and prosecutors and ultimately serving as a witness to convict the offender can be very time consuming, and personal recovery–physical, mental, and emotional–even more so. Furthermore, in certain cases the victim is forced to relocate or make extreme changes in their everyday live. It may take awhile to simply be able to function normally. Ultimately, a person’s mental state and commitments to help prosecute will often affect his or her ability to adequately perform at work. With all the stress of the crime, the last thing a victim of such acts needs is pressure at work or the threat of losing his or her job.
Protections for Victims
Oregon law, ORS 659A.270-285, protects these victims by requiring an employer to allow an eligible employee “reasonable time” for the following reasons:
-Seeking medical treatment or recovering from physical injuries sustained by an act of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking, or to care for a minor child or dependent who was injured by such acts.
-To receive counseling from a licensed professional for the employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent.
-To obtain services from a victim services provider for the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent.
-Seeking assistance from law enforcement or legal professionals to ensure the employee and any minor children or dependent are safe, including applying for protective orders if necessary and participating in any civil or criminal proceedings.
-To relocate or take other necessary steps to secure a safe and healthy home for the employee and the employee’s minor children or dependents.
If the employee’s extended absence would cause undue hardship for the employer, the employer may limit the length of the leave. However, it is against the law for an employer to completely deny leave to an eligible employee or retaliate or threaten to retaliate against the employee for asking for or taking leave. The current statute defines “eligible employee” as someone who has worked an average of more than 25 hours per week for at least 180 days immediately preceding the date the employee takes leave.
New Expansion of the Law
The Oregon legislature recently expanded the existing law to eliminate the employment history requirement for eligibility and to extend the protection and availability for leave. Effective January 1, 2014, any employee who is the victim of domestic abuse, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking will be eligible to take leave from day one of his or her employment. If you have been the victim of any of these crimes and believe you have been denied your right to take reasonable leave, contact our office as soon as possible.