Beginning on December 30, 2015, Delaware employers with four or more employees will be prohibited from discriminating against an employee or an applicant for employment because he or she has been the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. For instance, under this new law, employers cannot take an adverse employment action against an employee or an applicant who was involved in a domestic altercation with a violent spouse or significant other or who was the victim of sexual assault or stalking. Examples of adverse employment actions include termination, refusal to hire, denial of promotion, and other actions affecting employment, such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations or references, and increased surveillance.
In addition, Delaware employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations” to an employee who has been the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. For purposes of this new law, “reasonable accommodations” means making reasonable changes in the work place, including, but not limited to, changes in the schedules or duties of the job in question to enable the employee to satisfactorily perform the essential duties of the job. A reasonable accommodation may also include allowing the employee to use accrued leave originally designated for a different purpose to assist the employee with obtaining protection from domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. There is a limited exception to the accommodation requirement when the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations and no other reasonable accommodations are available.
To prepare for implementation of this new law, Delaware employers should create and/or review their employment policies which may be implicated by this new law, including policies on violence in the workplace, accommodations, and anti-harassment to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect employees in emergency situations and from unlawful harassment. All management personnel should be trained on the requirements of this new law.