Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Can My Employer Fire Me Because I Was a Domestic Violence Victim?

If you need time off for medical treatment or to seek an injunction against domestic violence, some state laws and city and county ordinances protect you, but most still don’t. Some states provide that employers must give you a leave of absence to deal with the effects of domestic violence. Other states have laws that protect crime victims if they need time off to go to court. A few states have laws saying you are entitled to unemployment if you have to leave your job due to domestic violence.

If you do have to testify and your state has little or no protection for you, then you might want to ask the prosecutor to subpoena you. Some states prohibit retaliation against witnesses who were subpoenaed to testify.

If you are injured and your employer is large enough, you might also want to seek Family and Medical Leave.

If male and female crime victims are treated differently at work, then you might have a sex discrimination case. For instance, if a male who was mugged is allowed time off, but a female domestic violence victim is not, then there may be a claim under Title VII or your state's sex discrimination laws.

Donna’s tips:

a. Domestic violence victims have to walk a fine line because of the huge numbers of people who will look down upon them and consider them weak. Be careful who you discuss your domestic violence situation with at work.

b. Don’t assume the law protects you from retaliation. Get legal advice if you’re unsure. The police may also be able to tell you whether you’re protected or who can advise you.

c. Don’t just blow off work. Make sure you let your supervisor know you’ll be out and for how long.

d. Don’t delay getting the help you need. No job is worth your life or safety, or the life/safety of your loved ones.


  1. i only have one gripe with this post. lol
    i'd never advise a person to depend upon a police officer to know if they are protected from retaliation. most of them wouldn't know but try to bluff their way thru that question and end up giving bad advice in order to create an air of authority of the laws.
    have a good day, Donna

  2. I agree, Griper, that the police may not know. But frequently those that specialize in domestic violence and in getting domestic violence injunctions will know.


I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.