FMLA leave for domestic violence?

Another bill has been brought to Congress that could impact FMLA requirements.
We are in the middle of National Domestic Violence Month. To commemorate it, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) has reintroduced the Domestic Violence Leave Act to the House of Representatives.
It would allow employees to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking inflicted upon them, a spouse (including a domestic partner), parent or child.
This legislation was already a part of a more extensive bill — the Balancing Act of 2011 — which was introduced in June of 2011.
Acceptable reasons for leave
Under the Domestic Violence Leave Act, victims of domestic violence would be permitted to take leave to:

  • obtain medical attention
  • seek legal assistance
  • participate in a legal proceeding
  • attend support groups
  • obtain counseling, and
  • participate in safety planning.

Certification
Employers would be allowed to seek certification that the need for leave is legitimate/necessary.
Certification could come from (among others):

  • a law enforcement agency
  • court records
  • witnesses
  • medical professionals, and
  • an attorney.

But if that information is not available, an employee would be able to satisfy the certification requirement by providing a written statement describing the need for leave.
Any information an employee provides an employer must be kept completely confidential. However, an employee could consent to have it released to a court or law enforcement agency.