In North Carolina, employees who are facing domestic violence have the right to take time off work to seek a protective order for themselves or their children. North Carolina law also gives employers the right to get their own civil no-contact orders to protect employees who have been threatened, injured, or otherwise subjected to illegal conduct, including domestic violence.
Be careful when looking for help. As you start your research on how to protect yourself and your family, remember that your abuser may be able to see your search history and phone records. If you use the same computer as your abuser or share a phone plan, for example, your abuser may be able to see what you are doing and who you are calling. Take this into account when planning your next steps.
All employers in North Carolina, regardless of size, are covered by these laws. If you or your child has been subjected to domestic violence, you may take time off as explained below. Domestic violence includes causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or causing you or your child to fear imminent serious injury or harassment.
North Carolina law requires employees who want to take domestic violence leave to follow their employer’s usual policies for giving notice that they need this time off. (This rule doesn’t apply if you are in imminent danger, however.) Employees must also provide any documentation their employer requires. North Carolina law protects employees from being discharged, demoted, denied a promotion, or disciplined for requesting domestic violence leave.
Employers must allow employees to take “reasonable time” off work to get (or try to get) a protective order from domestic violence for themselves or their child. Although some states also give employees the right to take time off for other purposes related to domestic violence (such as medical appointments, relocation, or safety planning), North Carolina does not.
You may be entitled to leave under other policies or laws, however. If your employer offers sick leave, for example, you should be able to use it to seek medical attention for injuries relating to domestic violence. And, if you or a family member has suffered injuries or trauma that qualify as a serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may qualify for leave under that law as well. Learn more about your rights under the FMLA.
If you are facing domestic violence, you likely already know about protective orders. Also called restraining orders, these court orders require your abuser to stay away from you and places you frequent, like your home or your school. The purpose of these orders is to allow law enforcement to step in as soon as your abuser approaches you, rather than having to wait until you are actually threatened or hurt.
If you get a protective order yourself, you can ask that it include your workplace. However, an employer may want its own protective order (called a civil no-contact order, in this context), if the abuser has threated to come to work to harm you or others you work with. An employer may choose to do this if you are uncertain or afraid to get a protective order yourself.
North Carolina law gives employers the right to ask the court to grant a civil no-contact order on behalf of an employee who is facing unlawful conduct that can reasonably be construed as being, or having been, carried out at work. Unlawful conduct includes causing or trying to cause you injury; threatening injury; and following you, harassing you, or otherwise being in your presence with the intent to make you afraid.
Your employer must consult you before getting a civil no-contact order on your behalf, to determine whether there are any safety concerns about having you involved in the process. If you are unwilling to participate or help your employer get the order, you cannot be subjected to discipline.
The civil no-contact order can prohibit your abuser from: