State of Washington      57th Legislature     2001 Regular Session


By Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Financial Institutions (originally sponsored by Senators Costa, Fairley, Hargrove, Kline, Gardner, Eide, Kohl‑Welles and Prentice)



Allowing crime victims employment leave. 

    AN ACT Relating to leave from employment for crime victims; adding new sections to chapter 49.12 RCW; creating a new section; prescribing penalties; and providing an effective date.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.  The legislature finds that an employee who is a crime victim must often take leave from work in order to participate in legal proceedings, obtain medical treatment, and obtain other necessary services arising from the crime.  The legislature also finds that the demands of the workplace, the needs of the criminal justice system, and the needs of crime victims must be balanced in order to have economic security and a well-functioning society.  The legislature therefore finds that it is in the public interest to provide reasonable leave from employment for crime victims.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  DEFINITIONS.  The definitions in this section apply throughout this act unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

    (1) "Employer" has the same meaning as defined in RCW 51.08.070.

    (2) "Reduced leave schedule" means leave taken for fewer than an employee's usual number of hours or days per workweek.

    (3) "Sexual abuse" means a violation of chapter 9.68 or 9A.44 RCW.

    (4) "Undue hardship" means significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of:

    (a) The nature and cost of the requested leave;

    (b) The number of persons employed by the employer;

    (c) The impact of the leave on the operation of the employer's business; and

    (d) The type of operation of the employer, including the composition, structure, and functions of the work force of the employer.

    (5) "Victim" means a person who suffers bodily injury or death as a proximate result of a criminal act of another person, the victim's own good faith and reasonable effort to prevent a criminal act, or his or her good faith effort to apprehend a person reasonably suspected of engaging in a criminal act.  "Victim" includes a person who has been harassed or followed by a person stalking in violation of RCW 9A.46.110, a survivor of a homicide victim who was an immediate family member, and a parent of a child who has been subject to sexual abuse.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  REQUIRED LEAVE.  (1) An employer must grant reasonable and necessary leave from work, with or without pay, for an employee to:

    (a) Prepare for and attend court proceedings;

    (b) Receive medical treatment; or

    (c) Obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, stalking, or the homicide of an immediate family member.

    (2) The leave must be needed because the employee is a victim of a criminal act, has been harassed or followed by a stalker in violation of RCW 9A.46.110, is a survivor of a homicide victim who was an immediate family member, or is a parent of a child who has been subject to sexual abuse.

    (3) A written request for leave must be provided to the employer at least seven days in advance of the leave, but a shorter notice may be sufficient if it is reasonable under the circumstances.

    (4) The leave may be taken on a reduced leave schedule subject to the approval of the employer.

    (5) An employer is not required to grant leave under this section if:

    (a) The employer would sustain undue hardship from the employee's absence;

    (b) The requested leave is not communicated to the employer within a reasonable time under the circumstances;

    (c) The requested leave is impractical, unreasonable, or unnecessary based upon the facts then made known to the employer; or

    (d) The criminal act has not been reported to a local police department or sheriff's office.

    (6) Nothing in this section requires more than six weeks of leave during any twelve-month period.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.  EMPLOYEE BENEFITS.  The taking of leave under section 3 of this act shall not result in the loss of any benefits for the employee that accrued before the date on which the leave commenced.  The employer may not sanction an employee for exercising the right to take leave under section 3 of this act.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.  ADDITIONAL RIGHTS‑‑REMEDIES‑‑COLLECTIVE BARGAINING OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS NOT DIMINISHED.  (1) The rights provided in this act are in addition to any other rights provided by law.

    (2) Nothing in this act shall be construed to discourage employers from adopting policies that provide greater leave rights to employees who are crime victims than those required by this act.

    (3) Nothing in this act shall be construed to diminish an employer's obligation to comply with any collective bargaining agreement or any employment benefit program or plan that provides greater leave rights to employees than the rights provided by this act.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.  COMPLAINT‑‑CONTENTS‑‑NOTICE‑‑INVESTIGATION.  (1) An employee who believes that an employer has violated any provision of this act may file a complaint with the department within ninety days of the alleged violation.  The contents of the complaint shall be the same as is required for a complaint filed under RCW 49.78.140.

    (2) Upon receipt of a complaint, the department shall forward written notice of the complaint to the employer.

    (3) The department may investigate any complaint filed within the required time frame.  If the department determines that a violation of this chapter has occurred, it may issue a notice of infraction.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7.  NOTICES OF INFRACTIONS‑‑APPEALS.  Notices of infractions and appeals to contest notices of infractions issued under this act are subject to the same requirements as provided in RCW 49.78.150 through 49.78.180.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 8.  PENALTIES.  An employer found to have committed an infraction of this act may be subject to a fine of up to two hundred dollars for the first infraction.  An employer that continues to violate the provisions of this chapter may be subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars for each infraction.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 9.  POSTER REQUIRED.  The department shall include notice of the provisions of this act in the next reprinting of employment posters printed under RCW 49.78.200.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 10.  RULES.  The director shall, in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW, adopt rules necessary to the administration of this chapter.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 11.  Captions used in this act are not any part of the law.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 12.  Sections 1 through 10 of this act are each added to chapter 49.12 RCW.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 13.  EFFECTIVE DATE.  This act takes effect September 1, 2002.


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