Most employers tend to shy away from the topic of domestic violence while ignoring that domestic violence does not commonly stay at home. While it is true that retaliation against victims of domestic violence is not protected under Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title Seven) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title Seven) protects individuals against discrimination based on their race, color, sex, religion, or national origin, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals against discrimination based on disability. However, certain cases that are considered domestic violence in nature may fall under the protection of Title VII or ADA.
Domestic Violence and Title VII
Actions taken by employers that violate Title Vll involving applicants and employees that were victims of domestic violence include an employer terminating an employee after learning she has been subjected to domestic violence, saying, “he fears the potential drama that battered women bring to the workplace”. This is because Title VII protects applicants and employees from treatment deriving from sex-based stereotypes.
Domestic Violence and ADA
Similarly, actions taken by employers that violate the ADA involving applicants and employees, include an employer searching an applicant’s name online and learning that she was a complaining witness in a rape prosecution and received counseling for depression. The employer decides not to hire her based on, “a concern that she may require future time off for continuing symptoms or further treatment of depression.” The ADA protects applicants and employees from different treatment or harassment based on actual or perceived impairment. Domestic violence can cause impairments such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and hospitalization; all which are protected under the ADA.
La Rose v State Mutual Life
The case LaRose v. State Mutual Life Assurance Co., No. 9322684 (215th Dist. Ct., Harris County, Tex. Dec. 5, 1994) in which the victim, Francesia LaRose, was killed by her former boyfriend after the boyfriend contacted her supervisor to demand that if she was not fired he would kill her. The next day, the former boyfriend walked into the workplace, after which, he shot and killed her. The security guards let him pass through, even though they reportedly had pictures of him. Consequently, the family of LaRose filed a wrongful death action against the employer and was awarded an $850,000 settlement on the basis that the company failed to provide adequate security. 94% of corporate security directors consider that domestic violence is a high-security concern for their companies; making domestic violence a security liability concern for employers.
On average, 10 million men and women report having been physically abused by an intimate partner each year. While domestic violence cannot be prevented, it is important to remember that there are options for the victims and that employers can make a difference. Employers can help by providing training, adequate security in company premises, allowing time to talk to the police, allowing time to go to court proceedings, allowing time to find a shelter, or directing victims to hotlines and organizations that are dedicated to providing aid.
Small to mid size employers join PEO’s like LCR Resource, Inc. to assist them in staying Title VII and ADA compliant. PEO’s can provide expertise in most regulatory compliance from Human Resources to Payroll and Employee Benefit Administration. Give us a call to find out more (915) 701-2325.