TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Ellen Karcher that would create the “New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act” to benefit domestic and sexual violence survivors was approved today by the Senate Labor Committee.
“Acts of domestic and sexual violence are intimate attacks that affect every aspect of a victim’s life. Their attackers often prey on a victim’s financial dependence and use it as a means of escaping punishment or committing additional attacks,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This bill would break the cycle of dependence that is unique to domestic and sexual violence by providing victims with the means for getting out of a violent situation without losing their job altogether.”
The Senators’ measure, S-2364, would allow victims of domestic or sexual violence or employees with a household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence to receive 20 days of unpaid leave time during a 12 month period.
Employees would be required to submit a written notice of their need for leave time to their employer. They would also be required to provide to their employer documentation in the form of a restraining order, or written documentation from a county or municipal prosecutor, physician, social worker or other person working with victims of assault.
Employers would be required to retain any information given to them in confidentiality, and would not be permitted to discriminate against or terminate employees covered under this measure. Any employer found violating or harassing an employee covered under this measure would subject to fines of up to $2,000 for a first violation, and up to $5,000 for subsequent violations.
“Domestic violence isn’t a one-time victimization,” said Senator Karcher, D-Mercer and Monmouth. “Rather, it can often cause a disruption in the victim’s entire life, with time needed to heal the physical and mental wounds of abuse, as well as address legal issues that sometimes stem from domestic violence. Employees should not be penalized for going down the long road to recovery from abuse, but rather, should be held harmless by their employers for the time necessary to move past domestic violence.”
This measure now awaits a vote by the full Senate.