Thursday, August 29, 2002
Davis Signs Bill Granting Employee Leave for Some Court Appearances
By DAVID KLINE
SACRAMENTO (CAPITOL)—Gov. Gray Davis has signed legislation requiring employers to allow time off for court appearances for workers who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, the governor’s press office announced yesterday.
The new law, which applies to employers with 25 or more workers, is intended to make it easier for assault victims to obtain restraining orders or to seek other means of protecting their health and welfare, Davis said.
The legislation also gives employees the right to take time off to seek medical help, counseling or other services related to domestic violence or sexual assault.
Employees must give “reasonable advance notice” of the planned time off, and must provide the employer with a police report, court order, doctor’s note or some other documentation indicating that an assault occurred.
Vacation time, compensatory time, sick leave and unpaid leave may be used, for a maximum of 12 weeks, and employers are prohibited from firing, demoting, suspending or otherwise sanctioning an employee who takes time off under the new law. A violation can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.
Assemblywoman Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, said her legislation, AB 2195, is crucial for victims of violence.
“These victims need to be able to take the time to help themselves,” Corbett said in a written statement. “They should focus on healing and recovery and not have to worry about losing their jobs.”
The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault sponsored the measure, and supporters included the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the California District Attorneys Association, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and several unions and women’s groups.
There was no organized opposition to Corbett’s bill, but the 15 Republican lawmakers who voted against it expressed concern that the new mandate could hurt many small businesses whose survival already is in jeopardy because of the weak economy.
The new law takes effect Jan. 1.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company