An employee may take up to 15 days of leave from work in any 12 month period if:
the employee or a family member is a victim of abusive behavior;
the employee is using the leave to seek medical attention, counseling, victim services or legal assistance; secure housing; obtain a protective order; appear in court; 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; and
the employee is not the perpetrator of the abusive behavior against such employee's family member.
This statute applies to employers with 50 or more employees.
An employee seeking such leave must first exhaust all annual or vacation leave, personal leave and sick leave available to the employee unless the employer waives this requirement.
The employer has sole discretion to determine whether any such leave is paid or unpaid.
Except in the case of imminent danger, the employee shall provide appropriate advance notice of the leave to the employer as required by the employer's leave policy. If there is imminent danger, the employee shall notify the employer within 3 workdays that the leave was or is being taken.
If an unscheduled absence occurs, the employer shall not take any negative action against the employee if the employee within 30 days from the last day of the unauthorized absence provides one or more of the seven specified forms of documentation.
While the employer may require the employee to provide one of the specified forms of documentation, the employer cannot require the employee to show evidence of arrest, conviction or other law enforcement documenation for such abusive behavior.
With some minor exceptions, all information related to the employee's leave should be kept confidential by the employer.
No employer shall interfere with any rights provided under this statute or discriminate against an employee for excersing such rights.
Employees who believe their employer has violated this law can file an online complaint under "Domestic Violence Leave" with the Massachusetts Attorney General.
In the case of Osborne-Trussell v. Children's Hospital Corporation, 488 Mass. 248 (2021), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a nurse whose employment was terminated prior to her start date after disclosing to her employer that her abuser had violated the terms of a harassment prevention order could pursue a claim against her prospective employer for violation of the Massachusetts Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Act's (M.G.L.c. 149, s. 52E) anti-retaliation and non-interference provisions. The SJC ruled that the plaintiff asserted a viable claim under the Act despite the fact that the plaintiff had not formally requested leave under the Act. It also ruled that the plaintiff was an "employee" for the purposes of the Act. The SJC reasoned that the Act is a remedial statute and, as such, should be liberally construed. The SJC went on to hold that to state a claim for retaliation under the Act an employee must allege that (1) the employee availed herself of a protected right under the Act; (2) the employee was adversely affected by an employment decision; and (3) there is a causal connection between the employee's protected activity and the employer's adverse action. As to the first element, the SJC found that the plaintiff's disclosure to the hospital that her abuser had violated the harassment prevention order and that she was cooperating with law enforcement was enough to put the hospital on notice that she might need to exercise the leave provisions of the Act.