Massachusetts law entitles employees affected by domestic violence to leave of absence; employers must notify employees of their rights

Effective August 8, 2014, Massachusetts enacted An Act Relative to Domestic Violence (the “ARDV”). The ARDV requires employers with 50 or more employees to permit an employee to take up to 15 days of leave in any  12 month period if the employee or a family member is a victim of “abusive behavior” (generally defined as domestic violence and related issues) and needs the leave to seek medical attention, counseling, or legal intervention.

Employers covered by the law must notify employees of their rights under the statute, which can be done by including a policy in an employee handbook or by issuing a separate notice.

Key points of the law include:

  1. Employers have sole discretion to determine whether leave taken under the law is paid or unpaid. Employees seeking leave under the ARDV must exhaust all annual or vacation leave, personal leave and sick leave prior to requesting or taking ARDV leave.

2. Except in cases of imminent danger to the health or safety of an employee, an employee seeking leave from work under the ARDV  must provide appropriate advance notice of the need for leave.

3. Employee can be required to provide documentation showing that the employee is eligible for leave. Any information provided by the employee must be kept confidential.

4. An employee who returns from leave must be restored to the employee’s original job or to an equivalent position.

5. Employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the ARDV.

6. The law can be enforced by the Attorney General, but an employee is also authorized to file a civil action under the provisions of the Massachusetts Wage Payment Law, which provide for mandatory triple damages and an award of attorney’s fees if the employee wins the lawsuit.

At Boston Employment Law PC, we represent both employers and employees with respect to a wide variety of employment law issues. For more information, please contact Howard Brown at or at (617) 566-8090.

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