Ohio Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Help Victims of Domestic Violence

Ohio lawmakers have reintroduced House Bill 297 (HB 297) to give a person employed in Ohio an opportunity to take unpaid leave from their job following a domestic violence incident. Reps. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) and Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) have reintroduced the measure. Driehaus is co-sponsor with nearly 20 other members of the House.

The bill would also allow victims of domestic violence to end a rental agreement or have their name removed from a rental agreement under certain circumstances. A victim could also be transferred to other housing, also under special circumstances.

Victims of domestic violence often fear losing a job because of taking time off to go to court or handle medical issues relating to a domestic violence incident. The bill specifies the kind of things an employee can miss work to accomplish including attending a hearing, or filing a petition or motion under domestic violence or stalking laws.

HB 297 also aims to clarify laws and procedures relating to the redress of wrongful termination if a victim uses the leave under the bill and is terminated.

At least 25 states reportedly have some sort of employment protection for domestic violence victims. HB 297 suggests victims make reasonable efforts to handle matters during non-working hours before taking a leave. It would permit employees with less than a year on the job to take up to three days of unpaid leave. Those employed a year or longer would be allowed five days unpaid leave. An employee would be required to give their employer as much notice as practicable.

Under the current version of the bill, an employee has a civil remedy only if he or she loses his or her job due to handling domestic violence matters. In that case, the employee can be reinstated with back pay plus reasonable attorney fees.

The employee must take action within 180 days, immediately following termination, or they are barred from seeking a remedy in under the bill.

Domestic violence or stalking can be criminal matters in Ohio, but domestic violence is also a family law issue in many cases. Divorces, dissolutions and separations may result and sometimes child custody issues follow.

Although we hope there are no such issues in your family, please be aware if there are, there is someone to help you at the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP. Please call us at 1-888-534-4850 for a free consultation.

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