Domestic Violence Leave Policy
This Policy describes the eligibility and procedural requirements relating to the administration of leave taken pursuant to the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Leave Act, G.L. c. 149, §52E (“DVLA”).
This Policy applies to all employees of the Burlington School District. Employees whose employment is governed by a collective bargaining agreement are subject only to those provisions of this Policy not specifically regulated by their collective bargaining agreement.
The School District is committed to complying with the DVLA, as it may be amended from time to time. In theevent of any conflict between the School District’s DVLA policy and the state law and any applicable regulations, the state law/regulations applicable to the School District and its employees shall prevail.
It shall be the policy of the school district to permit an employee to take up to fifteen (15) days of domestic violence leave from work in any twelve (12) month period. In order to be eligible for said leave:
(i) the employee, or a covered family member of the employee must be a victim of abusive behavior, which includes any of the following behaviors: domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or kidnapping. A covered family member includes a spouse, parent, step-parent, child, step-child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, persons in a substantive dating relationship or who reside together, persons having a child in common, or persons in a guardian relationship;
(ii) the employee may use this leave only to seek or obtain medical attention, counseling, victim services or legal assistance; secure housing; obtain a protective order from court; appear before a grand jury; meet with a district attorney or other law enforcement official; or attend child custody proceedings or address other issues directly related to the abusive behavior against the employee or family member of the employee; and
(iii) the employee must not be the alleged perpetrator of the abusive behavior against such employee’sfamily member.
The employer shall have the sole discretion to determine whether this leave shall be paid or unpaid. An employee seeking such leave shall exhaust all paid annual or vacation leave, personal leave and sick leave available to the employee, prior to requesting or taking domestic violence leave, unless the employer waives this requirement.
Except in cases of imminent danger to the health or safety of an employee or a member of the employee’s family,sufficient advanced notice of domestic violence leave shall be required. If such imminent danger exists, the employee shall notify the employer within three (3) workdays that such leave is being taken pursuant to the DVLA. The notification may be communicated to the School District by the employee, a family member of theemployee or the employee’s counselor, social worker, health care worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker, legal advocate or other professional who has assisted the employee in addressing the effects of the abusive behavior. If an unscheduled absence occurs, the School District shall not take any negative action against the employee if the employee, within thirty (30) days from the unauthorized absence, or within thirty (30) days fromthe employee’s last unauthorized absence in the instance of consecutive days of unauthorized absences, provides documentation of the need for leave, in accordance with paragraphs (1) to (7) below. The School District may require documentation from employees taking leave pursuant to the DVLA that the employee or employee’sfamily member has been a victim of abusive behavior and that the leave is consistent with clauses (i) to (iii) as above referenced. The School District shall not require an employee to show evidence of an arrest, conviction or other law enforcement documentation for such abusive behavior. The documentation shall be provided to the School District within a reasonable period after the School District requests it.
An employee shall satisfy this documentation requirement by providing any one of the following documents to the School District:
(1) a protective order, order of equitable relief or other documentation issued by a court of competent jurisdiction as a result of abusive behavior against the employee or employee’s family member;
(2) a document under the letterhead of the court, provider or public agency which the employee attended for the purposes of acquiring assistance as it relates to the abusive behavior against the employee oremployee’s family member;
(3) a police report or statement of a victim or witness provided to police, including a police incident report, documenting the abusive behavior;
(4) documentation that the perpetrator of the abusive behavior against the employee or family member of the employee has admitted to sufficient facts in court, or has been convicted of any offense constituting abusive behavior, or has been convicted of, or has been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent by reason of any offense constituting abusive behavior;
(5) medical documentation of treatment as a result of the abusive behavior;
(6) a sworn statement, signed under the penalties of perjury, provided by a counselor, social worker, health care worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker, legal advocate or other professional who has assisted the employee in addressing the effects of the abusive behavior;
(7) a sworn statement, signed under the penalties of perjury, from the employee attesting that the employee has been a victim of or is a family member of a victim of abusive behavior.
All information related to the employee’s leave shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed, except to theextent that disclosure is:
(i) requested or consented to, in writing, by the employee;
(ii) ordered to be released by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(iii) otherwise required by applicable federal or state law;
(iv) required in the course of an investigation authorized by law enforcement, including, but not limited
to, an investigation by the Attorney General; or
(v) necessary to protect the safety of the employee or others employed at the workplace.
The Superintendent shall ensure that notice is provided to all employees in the next school year and beyond byappropriately amending the district’s employee handbooks, by whatever title they may be known, or by directnotice about the Domestic Violence Law and securing the employees signature acknowledging receipt of the handbook/notice. The Superintendent shall be responsible for notifying all current employees, unless they have been notified through the handbook, of this policy in a manner that he/she deems appropriate.
The School District shall not coerce, interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of, or any attempt to exercise, any rights provided herein or to make leave requested or taken contingent upon whether or not the victim maintains contact with the alleged abuser. The School District shall not retaliate against, discharge or in any othermanner discriminate against an employee for exercising the employee’s rights under law. The taking of domesticviolence leave shall not result in the loss of any employment benefit accrued prior to the date of such leave. Uponthe employee’s return from such leave, he/she shall be entitled to restoration to the employee’s original job or to an equivalent position unless circumstances unrelated to the employee’s use of leave would have caused a change in employment status. Definitions of ‘abuse”, “abusive behavior”, “domestic violence”, “employees” and “family members” may be found in the laws referenced below.
LEGAL REF.:: M.G.L. 149:52E; Section 10 Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014
NOTE: The School Committee should seek the advice of counsel, deliberate, and determine whether or not to change the following language in the first paragraph as the School Committee, in consultation with the Superintendent, may choose to 1) make this type of leave paid or unpaid, and 2) make an employee exhaust other leave options or not:
“The employer shall have the sole discretion to determine whether this leave shall be paid or unpaid. Anemployee seeking such leave shall exhaust all annual or vacation leave, personal leave and sick leave available to the employee, prior to requesting or taking domestic violence leave, unless the employer waivesthis requirement.”
Additionally, the statute does not require that employers with less than 50 employees provide this leave.