When Domestic Violence Affects Your Employees

Do you know about recent legislative changes to Maine workplace domestic violence laws?  This law becomes effective this month, along with a new law on access to employees’ social media:

LD 921 (HP 640)

“An Act To Strengthen the Right of a Victim of Sexual Assault or Domestic Violence To Take Necessary Leave from Employment and To Promote Employee Social Media Privacy”

Sponsored by Representative Matthea Daughtry

3. Penalties. The If notice of a violation of this section is given to the employer and the Department of Labor within 6 months of the occurrence, the Department of Labor may assess civil penalties of up to $200 for each violation of this section, if notice of the violation was given to the employer and the department within 6 months of the occurrence. as follows:

A. For denial of leave in violation of this section, a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation of this section may be assessed. A fine assessed under this paragraph must be paid to the Treasurer of State. Additionally, the employer shall pay liquidated damages to the affected individual in an amount equal to 3 times the amount of total assessed fines; and

B. For termination in connection with an individual exercising a right granted by this section, the affected individual may elect to receive:

(1) Liquidated damages pursuant to paragraph A; or

(2) Reemployment with the employer with back wages.

There are other laws that apply to your workplace as well, such as the general duties clause of OSHA.  Do you have resources, plans, and strategies for providing security when domestic violence affects one of your employees?  Do you have resources you can provide to your employee to keep them and others safe while still running your business?  Do you have policies and training in place and, if not, do you know where you can turn for guidance?  This Central Maine Human Resources Association presentation will provide practical assistance to HR folks as well as business managers with no HR experience.

Rebecca Webber of Skelton Taintor & Abbott will address recent legal changes to the laws that apply, Quentin Chapman of Corporate Intelligence will provide guidance on what can be done proactively as well as what can be done once there is already a problem, and Julia Teitel of Safe Voices will provide advice on resources available to both employees and employers for victims of violence.  The program takes place on October 20, 2015, from 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston.  Go here to register: http://cmhra.shrm.org/events/2015/10/practical-strategies-handling-domestic-violence-workplace

This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of employment and corporate law.  Rebecca Webber is an employment attorney.  You can contact us at 784-3200 (telephone).  Skelton Taintor & Abbott is a full service law firm providing legal services to individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout Maine.  It has been in operation since its founding in 1853.