S. 1796 (109th): SAFE Act

109th Congress, 2005–2006. Text as of Sep 29, 2005 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

109th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1796

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

September 29, 2005

(for herself, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Dayton, Mr. Dodd, and Mr. Corzine) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

A BILL

To promote the economic security and safety of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Security and Financial Empowerment Act or the SAFE Act.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Definitions.

TITLE I—Entitlement to emergency leave for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Sec. 101. Purposes.

Sec. 102. Entitlement to emergency leave for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Sec. 103. Existing leave usable for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Sec. 104. Emergency benefits.

Sec. 105. Effect on other laws and employment benefits.

Sec. 107. Conforming amendment.

Sec. 108. Effective date.

TITLE II—Entitlement to unemployment compensation for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Sec. 201. Purposes.

Sec. 202. Unemployment compensation and training provisions.

TITLE III—Victims’ employment sustainability

Sec. 301. Short title.

Sec. 302. Purposes.

Sec. 303. Prohibited discriminatory acts.

Sec. 304. Enforcement.

Sec. 305. Attorney’s fees.

TITLE IV—Victims of abuse insurance protection

Sec. 401. Short title.

Sec. 402. Definitions.

Sec. 403. Discriminatory acts prohibited.

Sec. 404. Insurance protocols for subjects of abuse.

Sec. 405. Reasons for adverse actions.

Sec. 406. Life insurance.

Sec. 407. Subrogation without consent prohibited.

Sec. 408. Enforcement.

Sec. 409. Effective date.

TITLE V—National clearinghouse and resource center on domestic and sexual violence in the workplace grant

Sec. 501. National clearinghouse and resource center on domestic and sexual violence in the workplace grant.

TITLE VI—Severability

Sec. 601. Severability.

2.

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

Domestic violence crimes account for approximately 15 percent of total crime costs in the United States each year.

(2)

Violence against women has been reported to be the leading cause of physical injury to women. Such violence has a devastating impact on women’s physical and emotional health and financial security.

(3)

According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year there are 5,300,000 non-fatal violent victimizations committed by intimate partners against women. Female murder victims were substantially more likely than male murder victims to have been killed by an intimate partner. About 1/3 of female murder victims, and about 4 percent of male murder victims, were killed by an intimate partner.

(4)

According to recent government estimates, approximately 987,400 rapes occur annually in the United States, 89 percent of the rapes perpetrated against female victims. Since 2001, rapes have actually increased by 4 percent.

(5)

Approximately 10,200,000 people have been stalked at some time in their lives. Four out of every 5 stalking victims are women. Stalkers harass and terrorize their victims by spying on the victims, standing outside their places of work or homes, making unwanted phone calls, sending or leaving unwanted letters or items, or vandalizing property.

(6)

Employees in the United States who have been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking too often suffer adverse consequences in the workplace as a result of their victimization.

(7)

Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking are particularly vulnerable to changes in employment, pay, and benefits as a result of their victimizations, and are, therefore, in need of legal protection.

(8)

The prevalence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other violence against women at work is dramatic. About 36,500 individuals, 80 percent of whom are women, were raped or sexually assaulted in the workplace each year from 1993 through 1999. Half of all female victims of violent workplace crimes know their attackers. Nearly 1 out of 10 violent workplace incidents are committed by partners or spouses. Women who work for State and local governments suffer a higher incidence of workplace assaults, including rapes, than women who work in the private sector.

(9)

Homicide is the leading cause of death for women on the job. Husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners commit 15 percent of workplace homicides against women.

(10)

Studies indicate that between 35 and 56 percent of employed battered women surveyed were harassed at work by their abusive partners.

(11)

According to a 1998 report of the Government Accountability Office, between 1/4 and ½ of domestic violence victims surveyed in 3 studies reported that the victims lost a job due, at least in part, to domestic violence.

(12)

Women who have experienced domestic violence or dating violence are more likely than other women to be unemployed, to suffer from health problems that can affect employability and job performance, to report lower personal income, and to rely on welfare.

(13)

Abusers frequently seek to control their partners by actively interfering with their ability to work, including preventing their partners from going to work, harassing their partners at work, limiting the access of their partners to cash or transportation, and sabotaging the child care arrangements of their partners.

(14)

More than ½ of women receiving welfare have been victims of domestic violence as adults and between 1/4 and 1/3 reported being abused in the last year.

(15)

Victims of intimate partner violence lose 8,000,000 days of paid work each year, the equivalent of over 32,000 full-time jobs and 5,600,000 days of household productivity.

(16)

Sexual assault, whether occurring in or out of the workplace, can impair an employee’s work performance, require time away from work, and undermine the employee’s ability to maintain a job. Almost 50 percent of sexual assault survivors lose their jobs or are forced to quit in the aftermath of the assaults.

(17)

More than 35 percent of stalking victims report losing time from work due to the stalking and 7 percent never return to work.

(18)
(A)

According to the National Institute of Justice, crime costs an estimated $450,000,000,000 annually in medical expenses, lost earnings, social service costs, pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life for victims, which harms the Nation’s productivity and drains the Nation’s resources.

(B)

Violent crime accounts for $426,000,000,000 per year of this amount.

(C)

Rape exacts the highest costs per victim of any criminal offense, and accounts for $127,000,000,000 per year of the amount described in subparagraph (A).

(19)

Violent crime results in wage losses equivalent to 1 percent of all United States earnings, and causes 3 percent of the Nation’s medical spending and 14 percent of the Nation’s injury-related medical spending.

(20)

The Bureau of National Affairs has estimated that domestic violence costs United States employers between $3,000,000,000 and $5,000,000,000 annually in lost time and productivity. Other reports have estimated that domestic violence costs those employers between $5,800,000,000 and $13,000,000,000 annually.

(21)

United States medical costs for domestic violence have been estimated to be $31,000,000,000 per year.

(22)

Surveys of business executives and corporate security directors also underscore the heavy toll that workplace violence takes on women, businesses, and interstate commerce in the United States.

(23)

Ninety-four percent of corporate security and safety directors at companies nationwide rank domestic violence as a high security concern.

(24)

Forty-nine percent of senior executives recently surveyed said domestic violence has a harmful effect on their company’s productivity, 47 percent said domestic violence negatively affects attendance, and 44 percent said domestic violence increases health care costs.

(25)

Only 28 States have laws that explicitly provide unemployment insurance to domestic violence victims in certain circumstances, and none of the laws explicitly cover victims of sexual assault or stalking.

(26)

Only 6 States provide domestic violence victims with leave from work to go to court, to the doctor, or to take other steps to address the domestic violence in their lives, and only Maine provides such leave to victims of sexual assault and stalking.

(27)

No States prohibit employment discrimination against all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Five States have limited protections against such discrimination for some victims under certain circumstances.

(28)

Employees, including individuals participating in welfare to work programs, may need to take time during business hours to—

(A)

obtain orders of protection;

(B)

seek medical or legal assistance, counseling, or other services; or

(C)

look for housing in order to escape from domestic violence.

(29)

Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking have been subjected to discrimination by private and State employers, including discrimination motivated by stereotypic notions about women and other discrimination on the basis of sex.

(30)

Domestic violence victims and third parties who help them have been subjected to discriminatory practices by health, life, disability, and property and casualty insurers, and employers who self-insure employee benefits, who have denied or canceled coverage, rejected claims, and raised rates based on domestic violence. Although some State legislatures have tried to address those practices, the scope of protection afforded by the laws adopted varies from State to State, with many failing to address the problem comprehensively. Moreover, Federal law prevents States from protecting the almost 40 percent of employees whose employers self-insure employee benefits.

(31)

Existing Federal law does not explicitly—

(A)

authorize victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to take leave from work to seek legal assistance and redress, counseling, or assistance with safety planning activities;

(B)

address the eligibility of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking for unemployment compensation;

(C)

prohibit employment discrimination against actual or perceived victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or

(D)

prohibit insurers and employers who self-insure employee benefits from—

(i)

discriminating against domestic violence victims and those who help them in determining eligibility for coverage, rates charged, and standards for payment of claims; or

(ii)

disclosing information about abuse and the location of the victims through insurance databases and other means.

3.

Definitions

In this Act, except as otherwise expressly provided:

(1)

Commerce

The terms commerce and industry or activity affecting commerce have the meanings given the terms in section 101 of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (29 U.S.C. 2611).

(2)

Course of conduct

The term course of conduct means a course of repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person or conveying verbal or written threats, including threats conveyed through electronic communications, or threats implied by conduct.

(3)

Dating violence

The term dating violence has the meaning given the term in section 826 of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 (20 U.S.C. 1152).

(4)

Domestic violence

The term domestic violence has the meaning given the term in section 826 of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 (20 U.S.C. 1152).

(5)

Domestic violence coalition

The term domestic violence coalition means a nonprofit, nongovernmental membership organization that—

(A)

consists of the entities carrying out a majority of the domestic violence programs carried out within a State;

(B)

collaborates and coordinates activities with Federal, State, and local entities to further the purposes of domestic violence intervention and prevention; and

(C)

among other activities, provides training and technical assistance to entities carrying out domestic violence programs within a State, territory, political subdivision, or area under Federal authority.

(6)

Electronic communications

The term electronic communications includes communications via telephone (including mobile phone), computer, e-mail, video recorder, fax machine, telex, or pager.

(7)

Employ; State

The terms employ and State have the meanings given the terms in section 3 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203).

(8)

Employee

(A)

In general

The term employee means any person employed by an employer. In the case of an individual employed by a public agency, such term means an individual employed as described in section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203(e)(2)).

(B)

Basis

The term includes a person employed as described in subparagraph (A) on a full- or part-time basis, for a fixed time period, on a temporary basis, pursuant to a detail, as an independent contractor, or as a participant in a work assignment as a condition of receipt of Federal or State income-based public assistance.

(9)

Employer

The term employer

(A)

means any person engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce who employs 15 or more individuals; and

(B)

includes any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee, and includes a public agency that employs individuals as described in section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, but does not include any labor organization (other than when acting as an employer) or anyone acting in the capacity of officer or agent of such labor organization.

(10)

Employment benefits

The term employment benefits means all benefits provided or made available to employees by an employer, including group life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, sick leave, annual leave, educational benefits, and pensions, regardless of whether such benefits are provided by a practice or written policy of an employer or through an employee benefit plan, as defined in section 3(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1002(3)).

(11)

Family or household member

The term family or household member, used with respect to a person, means a spouse, former spouse, parent, son or daughter, or person residing or formerly residing in the same dwelling unit as the person.

(12)

Parent; son or daughter

The terms parent and son or daughter have the meanings given the terms in section 101 of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (29 U.S.C. 2611).

(13)

Person

The term person has the meaning given the term in section 3 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203).

(14)

Public agency

The term public agency has the meaning given the term in section 3 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203).

(15)

Public assistance

The term public assistance includes cash, food stamps, medical assistance, housing assistance, and other benefits provided on the basis of income by a public agency.

(16)

Reduced leave schedule

The term reduced leave schedule means a leave schedule that reduces the usual number of hours per workweek, or hours per workday, of an employee.

(17)

Repeatedly

The term repeatedly means on 2 or more occasions.

(18)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Labor.

(19)

Sexual assault

The term sexual assault has the meaning given the term in section 826 of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 (20 U.S.C. 1152).

(20)

Sexual assault coalition

The term sexual assault coalition means a nonprofit, nongovernmental membership organization that—

(A)

consists of the entities carrying out a majority of the sexual assault programs carried out within a State;

(B)

collaborates and coordinates activities with Federal, State, and local entities to further the purposes of sexual assault intervention and prevention; and

(C)

among other activities, provides training and technical assistance to entities carrying out sexual assault programs within a State, territory, political subdivision, or area under Federal authority.

(21)

Stalking

The term stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or to fear bodily injury, sexual assault, or death to the person, or the person’s spouse, parent, or son or daughter, or any other person who regularly resides in the person’s household, if the conduct causes the specific person to have such distress or fear.

(22)

Victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

The term victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking includes a person who has been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and a person whose family or household member has been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(23)

Victim services organization

The term victim services organization means a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that provides assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or to advocates for such victims, including a rape crisis center, an organization carrying out a domestic violence program, an organization operating a shelter or providing counseling services, or an organization providing assistance through the legal process.

I

Entitlement to emergency leave for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

101.

Purposes

The purposes of this title are, pursuant to the affirmative power of Congress to enact legislation under the portions of section 8 of article I of the Constitution relating to providing for the general welfare and to regulation of commerce among the several States, and under section 5 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution—

(1)

to promote the national interest in reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by enabling victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, and minimize the physical and emotional injuries from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and to reduce the devastating economic consequences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to employers and employees;

(2)

to promote the national interest in ensuring that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can recover from and cope with the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and participate in criminal and civil justice processes, without fear of adverse economic consequences from their employers;

(3)

to ensure that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can recover from and cope with the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and participate in criminal and civil justice processes, without fear of adverse economic consequences with respect to public benefits;

(4)

to promote the purposes of the 14th amendment by preventing sex-based discrimination and discrimination against victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking in employment leave, by addressing the failure of existing laws to protect the employment rights of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, by protecting their civil and economic rights, and by furthering the equal opportunity of women for economic self-sufficiency and employment free from discrimination;

(5)

to minimize the negative impact on interstate commerce from dislocations of employees and harmful effects on productivity, employment, health care costs, and employer costs, caused by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including intentional efforts to frustrate women’s ability to participate in employment and interstate commerce;

(6)

to further the goals of human rights and dignity reflected in instruments such as the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and

(7)

to accomplish the purposes described in paragraphs (1) through (6) by—

(A)

entitling employed victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to take leave to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance without penalty from their employers; and

(B)

prohibiting employers from discriminating against actual or perceived victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers and protects the safety of all persons in the workplace.

102.

Entitlement to emergency leave for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

(a)

Leave requirement

(1)

Basis

An employee who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking may take leave from work to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, by—

(A)

seeking medical attention for, or recovering from, physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to the employee or the employee’s family or household member;

(B)

obtaining services from a victim services organization for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;

(C)

obtaining psychological or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;

(D)

participating in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking other actions to increase the safety of the employee or the employee’s family or household member from future domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking or ensure economic security; or

(E)

seeking legal assistance or remedies to ensure the health and safety of the employee or the employee’s family or household member, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or derived from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(2)

Period

An employee may take not more than 30 days of leave, as described in paragraph (1), in any 12-month period.

(3)

Schedule

Leave described in paragraph (1) may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule.

(b)

Notice

The employee shall provide the employer with reasonable notice of the employee’s intention to take the leave, unless providing such notice is not practicable.

(c)

Certification

(1)

In general

The employer may require the employee to provide certification to the employer, within a reasonable period after the employer requests the certification, that—

(A)

the employee or the employee’s family or household member is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and

(B)

the leave is for 1 of the purposes enumerated in subsection (a)(1).

(2)

Contents

An employee may satisfy the certification requirement of paragraph (1) by providing to the employer—

(A)

a sworn statement of the employee;

(B)

documentation from an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, or a medical or other professional, from whom the employee or the employee’s family or household member has sought assistance in addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;

(C)

a police or court record; or

(D)

other corroborating evidence.

(d)

Confidentiality

All information provided to the employer pursuant to subsection (b) or (c), including a statement of the employee or any other documentation, record, or corroborating evidence, and the fact that the employee has requested or obtained leave pursuant to this section, shall be retained in the strictest confidence by the employer, except to the extent that disclosure is—

(1)

requested or consented to by the employee in writing; or

(2)

otherwise required by applicable Federal or State law.

(e)

Employment and benefits

(1)

Restoration to position

(A)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), any employee who takes leave under this section for the intended purpose of the leave shall be entitled, on return from such leave—

(i)

to be restored by the employer to the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced; or

(ii)

to be restored to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

(B)

Loss of benefits

The taking of leave under this section shall not result in the loss of any employment benefit accrued prior to the date on which the leave commenced.

(C)

Limitations

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to entitle any restored employee to—

(i)

the accrual of any seniority or employment benefits during any period of leave; or

(ii)

any right, benefit, or position of employment other than any right, benefit, or position to which the employee would have been entitled had the employee not taken the leave.

(D)

Construction

Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prohibit an employer from requiring an employee on leave under this section to report periodically to the employer on the status and intention of the employee to return to work.

(2)

Exemption concerning certain highly compensated employees

(A)

Denial of restoration

An employer may deny restoration under paragraph (1) to any employee described in subparagraph (B) if—

(i)

such denial is necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the employer;

(ii)

the employer notifies the employee of the intent of the employer to deny restoration on such basis at the time the employer determines that such injury would occur; and

(iii)

in any case in which the leave has commenced, the employee elects not to return to employment after receiving such notice.

(B)

Affected employees

An employee referred to in subparagraph (A) is a salaried employee who is among the highest paid 10 percent of the employees employed by the employer within 75 miles of the facility at which the employee is employed.

(3)

Maintenance of health benefits

(A)

Coverage

Except as provided in subparagraph (B), during any period that an employee takes leave under this section, the employer shall maintain coverage under any group health plan (as defined in section 5000(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) for the duration of such leave at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment continuously for the duration of such leave.

(B)

Failure to return from leave

The employer may recover the premium that the employer paid for maintaining coverage for the employee under such group health plan during any period of leave under this section if—

(i)

the employee fails to return from leave under this section after the period of leave to which the employee is entitled has expired; and

(ii)

the employee fails to return to work for a reason other than—

(I)

the continuation of, recurrence of, or onset of an episode of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, that entitles the employee to leave pursuant to this section; or

(II)

other circumstances beyond the control of the employee.

(C)

Certification

(i)

Issuance

An employer may require an employee who claims that the employee is unable to return to work because of a reason described in subclause (I) or (II) of subparagraph (B)(ii) to provide, within a reasonable period after making the claim, certification to the employer that the employee is unable to return to work because of that reason.

(ii)

Contents

An employee may satisfy the certification requirement of clause (i) by providing to the employer—

(I)

a sworn statement of the employee;

(II)

documentation from an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, or a medical or other professional, from whom the employee or the employee's family or household member has sought assistance in addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;

(III)

a police or court record; or

(IV)

other corroborating evidence.

(D)

Confidentiality

All information provided to the employer pursuant to subparagraph (C), including a statement of the employee or any other documentation, record, or corroborating evidence, and the fact that the employee is not returning to work because of a reason described in subclause (I) or (II) of subparagraph (B)(ii), shall be retained in the strictest confidence by the employer, except to the extent that disclosure is—

(i)

requested or consented to by the employee; or

(ii)

otherwise required by applicable Federal or State law.

(f)

Prohibited acts

(1)

Interference with rights

(A)

Exercise of rights

It shall be unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this section.

(B)

Employer discrimination

It shall be unlawful for any employer to discharge or harass any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the individual (including retaliation in any form or manner) because the individual—

(i)

exercised any right provided under this section; or

(ii)

opposed any practice made unlawful by this section.

(C)

Public agency sanctions

It shall be unlawful for any public agency to deny, reduce, or terminate the benefits of, otherwise sanction, or harass any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual (including retaliation in any form or manner) with respect to the amount, terms, or conditions of public assistance of the individual because the individual—

(i)

exercised any right provided under this section; or

(ii)

opposed any practice made unlawful by this section.

(2)

Interference with proceedings or inquiries

It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge or in any other manner discriminate (as described in subparagraph (B) or (C) of paragraph (1)) against any individual because such individual—

(A)

has filed any charge, or has instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding, under or related to this section;

(B)

has given, or is about to give, any information in connection with any inquiry or proceeding relating to any right provided under this section; or

(C)

has testified, or is about to testify, in any inquiry or proceeding relating to any right provided under this section.

(g)

Enforcement

(1)

Civil action by affected individuals

(A)

Liability

Any employer that violates subsection (f) shall be liable to any individual affected—

(i)

for damages equal to—

(I)

the amount of—

(aa)

any wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost to such individual by reason of the violation; or

(bb)

in a case in which wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation has not been denied or lost to the individual, any actual monetary losses sustained by the individual as a direct result of the violation;

(II)

the interest on the amount described in subclause (I) calculated at the prevailing rate; and

(III)

an additional amount as liquidated damages equal to the sum of the amount described in subclause (I) and the interest described in subclause (II), except that if an employer that has violated subsection (f) proves to the satisfaction of the court that the act or omission that violated subsection (f) was in good faith and that the employer had reasonable grounds for believing that the act or omission was not a violation of subsection (f), such court may, in the discretion of the court, reduce the amount of the liability to the amount and interest determined under subclauses (I) and (II), respectively; and

(ii)

for such equitable relief as may be appropriate, including employment, reinstatement, and promotion.

(B)

Right of action

An action to recover the damages or equitable relief prescribed in subparagraph (A) may be maintained against any employer in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction by any 1 or more affected individuals for and on behalf of—

(i)

the individuals; or

(ii)

the individuals and other individuals similarly situated.

(C)

Fees and costs

The court in such an action shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff, allow a reasonable attorney’s fee, reasonable expert witness fees, and other costs of the action to be paid by the defendant.

(D)

Limitations

The right provided by subparagraph (B) to bring an action by or on behalf of any affected individual shall terminate—

(i)

on the filing of a complaint by the Secretary in an action under paragraph (4) in which restraint is sought of any further delay in the payment of the amount described in subparagraph (A)(i) to such individual by an employer responsible under subparagraph (A) for the payment; or

(ii)

on the filing of a complaint by the Secretary in an action under paragraph (2) in which a recovery is sought of the damages described in subparagraph (A)(i) owing to an affected individual by an employer liable under subparagraph (A),

unless the action described in clause (i) or (ii) is dismissed without prejudice on motion of the Secretary.
(2)

Action by the Secretary

(A)

Administrative action

The Secretary shall receive, investigate, and attempt to resolve complaints of violations of subsection (f) in the same manner as the Secretary receives, investigates, and attempts to resolve complaints of violations of sections 6 and 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206 and 207).

(B)

Civil action

The Secretary may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction to recover the damages described in paragraph (1)(A)(i).

(C)

Sums recovered

Any sums recovered by the Secretary pursuant to subparagraph (B) shall be held in a special deposit account and shall be paid, on order of the Secretary, directly to each individual affected. Any such sums not paid to such an individual because of inability to do so within a period of 3 years shall be deposited into the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts.

(3)

Limitation

(A)

In general

Except as provided in subparagraph (B), an action may be brought under this subsection not later than 2 years after the date of the last event constituting the alleged violation for which the action is brought.

(B)

Willful violation

In the case of such action brought for a willful violation of subsection (f), such action may be brought within 3 years after the date of the last event constituting the alleged violation for which such action is brought.

(C)

Commencement

In determining when an action is commenced by the Secretary under this subsection for the purposes of this paragraph, it shall be considered to be commenced on the date when the complaint is filed.

(4)

Action for injunction by Secretary

The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction, for cause shown, in an action brought by the Secretary—

(A)

to restrain violations of subsection (f), including the restraint of any withholding of payment of wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation, plus interest, found by the court to be due to affected individuals; or

(B)

to award such other equitable relief as may be appropriate, including employment, reinstatement, and promotion.

(5)

Solicitor of Labor

The Solicitor of Labor may appear for and represent the Secretary on any litigation brought under this subsection.

(6)

Employer liability under other laws

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the liability of an employer or public agency to an individual, for harm suffered relating to the individual’s experience of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, pursuant to any other Federal or State law, including a law providing for a legal remedy.

(7)

Library of Congress

Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, in the case of the Library of Congress, the authority of the Secretary under this subsection shall be exercised by the Librarian of Congress.

(8)

Certain public agency employers

(A)

Agencies

Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, in the case of a public agency that employs individuals as described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203(e)(2)) (other than an entity of the legislative branch of the Federal Government), subparagraph (B) shall apply.

(B)

Authority

In the case described in subparagraph (A), the powers, remedies, and procedures provided in the case of a violation of chapter 63 of title 5, United States Code, in that title to an employing agency, in chapter 12 of that title to the Merit Systems Protection Board, or in that title to any person alleging a violation of chapter 63 of that title, shall be the powers, remedies, and procedures this subsection provides in the case of a violation of subsection (f) to that agency, that Board, or any person alleging a violation of subsection (f), respectively, against an employee who is such an individual.

(9)

Public agencies providing public assistance

Consistent with regulations prescribed under section 106(d), the President shall ensure that any public agency that violates subsection (f)(1)(C), or subsection (f)(2) by discriminating as described in subsection (f)(1)(C), shall provide to any individual who receives a less favorable amount, term, or condition of public assistance as a result of the violation—

(A)
(i)

the amount of any public assistance denied or lost to such individual by reason of the violation; and

(ii)

the interest on the amount described in clause (i); and

(B)

such equitable relief as may be appropriate.

103.

Existing leave usable for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

An employee who is entitled to take paid or unpaid leave (including family, medical, sick, annual, personal, or similar leave) from employment, pursuant to State or local law, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment benefits program or plan, may elect to substitute any period of such leave for an equivalent period of leave provided under section 102.

104.

Emergency benefits

(a)

In general

A State may use funds provided to the State under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) to provide nonrecurrent short-term emergency benefits to an individual for any period of leave the individual takes pursuant to section 102.

(b)

Eligibility

In calculating the eligibility of an individual for such emergency benefits, the State shall count only the cash available or accessible to the individual.

(c)

Timing

(1)

Applications

An individual seeking emergency benefits under subsection (a) from a State shall submit an application to the State.

(2)

Benefits

The State shall provide benefits to an eligible applicant under paragraph (1) on an expedited basis, and not later than 7 days after the applicant submits an application under paragraph (1).

(d)

Conforming amendment

Section 404 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 604) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(l)

Authority To provide emergency benefits

A State that receives a grant under section 403 may use the grant to provide nonrecurrent short-term emergency benefits, in accordance with section 104 of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act, to individuals who take leave pursuant to section 102 of that Act, without regard to whether the individuals receive assistance under the State program funded under this part.

.

105.

Effect on other laws and employment benefits

(a)

More protective laws, agreements, programs, and plans

Nothing in this title shall be construed to supersede any provision of any Federal, State, or local law, collective bargaining agreement, or employment benefits program or plan that provides—

(1)

greater leave benefits for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking than the rights established under this title; or

(2)

leave benefits for a larger population of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as defined in such law, agreement, program, or plan) than the victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking covered under this title.

(b)

Less protective laws, agreements, programs, and plans

The rights established for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking under this title shall not be diminished by any State or local law, collective bargaining agreement, or employment benefits program or plan.

106.

Regulations

(a)

In general

Except as provided in subsections (b), (c), and (d), the Secretary shall issue regulations to carry out this title.

(b)

Library of Congress

The Librarian of Congress shall prescribe the regulations described in subsection (a) with respect to employees of the Library of Congress. The regulations prescribed under this subsection shall, to the extent appropriate, be consistent with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a).

(c)

Certain public agency employers

The Office of Personnel Management shall prescribe the regulations described in subsection (a) with respect to individuals described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203(e)(2)) (other than an individual employed by an entity of the legislative branch of the Federal Government). The regulations prescribed under this subsection shall, to the extent appropriate, be consistent with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a).

(d)

Public agencies providing public assistance

The President shall prescribe the regulations described in subsection (a) with respect to applicants for and recipients of public assistance, in the case of violations of section 102(f)(1)(C), or section 102(f)(2) due to discrimination described in section 102(f)(1)(C). The regulations prescribed under this subsection shall, to the extent appropriate, be consistent with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a).

107.

Conforming amendment

Section 1003(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 2000d–7(a)(1)) is amended by inserting title I or III of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act, before or the provisions.

108.

Effective date

This title and the amendment made by this title take effect 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

II

Entitlement to unemployment compensation for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

201.

Purposes

The purposes of this title are, pursuant to the affirmative power of Congress to enact legislation under the portions of section 8 of article I of the Constitution relating to laying and collecting taxes, providing for the general welfare, and regulation of commerce among the several States, and under section 5 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution—

(1)

to promote the national interest in reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by enabling victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, and minimize the physical and emotional injuries from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and to reduce the devastating economic consequences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to employers and employees;

(2)

to promote the national interest in ensuring that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can recover from and cope with the effects of such victimization and participate in the criminal and civil justice processes without fear of adverse economic consequences;

(3)

to minimize the negative impact on interstate commerce from dislocations of employees and harmful effects on productivity, loss of employment, health care costs, and employer costs, caused by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including intentional efforts to frustrate the ability of women to participate in employment and interstate commerce;

(4)

to promote the purposes of the 14th amendment to the Constitution by preventing sex-based discrimination and discrimination against victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking in unemployment insurance, by addressing the failure of existing laws to protect the employment rights of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, by protecting their civil and economic rights, and by furthering the equal opportunity of women for economic self-sufficiency and employment free from discrimination; and

(5)

to accomplish the purposes described in paragraphs (1) through (4) by providing unemployment insurance to those who are separated from their employment as a result of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers and protects the safety of all persons in the workplace.

202.

Unemployment compensation and training provisions

(a)

Unemployment compensation

Section 3304 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to approval of State unemployment compensation laws) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a)—

(A)

in paragraph (18), by striking and at the end;

(B)

by redesignating paragraph (19) as paragraph (20); and

(C)

by inserting after paragraph (18) the following new paragraph:

(19)

compensation shall not be denied where an individual is separated from employment due to circumstances resulting from the individual’s experience of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, nor shall States impose additional conditions that restrict the individual’s eligibility for or receipt of benefits beyond those required of other individuals who are forced to leave their jobs or are deemed to have good cause for voluntarily separating from a job in the State; and

; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(g)

Construction

For purposes of subsection (a)(19)—

(1)

Documentation

In determining eligibility for compensation due to circumstances resulting from an individual’s experience of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking—

(A)

States shall adopt, or have adopted, by statute, regulation, or policy a list of forms of documentation that may be presented to demonstrate eligibility; and

(B)

presentation of any one of such forms of documentation shall be sufficient to demonstrate eligibility, except that a State may require the presentation of a form of identification in addition to the written statement of claimant described in paragraph (2)(G).

(2)

List of forms of documentation

The list referred to in paragraph (1)(A) shall include not less than 3 of the following forms of documentation:

(A)

An order of protection or other documentation issued by a court.

(B)

A police report or criminal charges documenting the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(C)

Documentation that the perpetrator has been convicted of the offense of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(D)

Medical documentation of the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(E)

Evidence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking from a counselor, social worker, health worker, or domestic violence shelter worker.

(F)

A written statement that the applicant or the applicant’s minor child is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, provided by a social worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker, attorney at law, or other professional who has assisted the applicant in dealing with the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(G)

A written statement of the claimant.

(3)

Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking defined

The terms domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking have the meanings given such terms in section 3 of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act.

.

(b)

Unemployment compensation personnel training

Section 303(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 503(a)) is amended—

(1)

by redesignating paragraphs (4) through (10) as paragraphs (5) through (11), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting after paragraph (3) the following new paragraph:

(4)

Such methods of administration as will ensure that—

(A)

applicants for unemployment compensation and individuals inquiring about such compensation are adequately notified of the provisions of subsections (a)(19) and (g) of section 3304 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to the availability of unemployment compensation for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking); and

(B)

claims reviewers and hearing personnel are adequately trained in—

(i)

the nature and dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as such terms are defined in section 3 of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act); and

(ii)

methods of ascertaining and keeping confidential information about possible experiences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as so defined) to ensure that—

(I)

requests for unemployment compensation based on separations stemming from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as so defined) are reliably screened, identified, and adjudicated; and

(II)

full confidentiality is provided for the individual’s claim and submitted evidence; and

.

(c)

TANF personnel training

Section 402(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 602(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(8)

Certification that the State will provide information to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

A certification by the chief officer of the State that the State has established and is enforcing standards and procedures to—

(A)

ensure that applicants for assistance under the program and individuals inquiring about such assistance are adequately notified of—

(i)

the provisions of subsections (a)(19) and (g) of section 3304 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to the availability of unemployment compensation for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking); and

(ii)

assistance made available by the State to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as such terms are defined in section 3 of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act);

(B)

ensure that case workers and other agency personnel responsible for administering the State program funded under this part are adequately trained in—

(i)

the nature and dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as so defined);

(ii)

State standards and procedures relating to the prevention of, and assistance for individuals who experience, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as so defined); and

(iii)

methods of ascertaining and keeping confidential information about possible experiences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (as so defined);

(C)

if a State has elected to establish and enforce standards and procedures regarding the screening for and identification of domestic violence pursuant to paragraph (7), ensure that—

(i)

applicants for assistance under the program and individuals inquiring about such assistance are adequately notified of options available under such standards and procedures; and

(ii)

case workers and other agency personnel responsible for administering the State program funded under this part are provided with adequate training regarding such standards and procedures and options available under such standards and procedures; and

(D)

ensure that the training required under subparagraphs (B) and, if applicable, (C)(ii) is provided through a training program operated by an eligible entity (as defined in section 202(d)(2) of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act).

.

(d)

Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking training grant program

(1)

Grants authorized

The Secretary of Health and Human Services (in this subsection referred to as the Secretary) is authorized to award—

(A)

a grant to a national victim services organization in order for such organization to—

(i)

develop and disseminate a model training program (and related materials) for the training required under section 303(a)(4)(B) of the Social Security Act, as added by subsection (b), and under subparagraphs (B) and, if applicable, (C)(ii) of section 402(a)(8) of the such Act, as added by subsection (c); and

(ii)

provide technical assistance with respect to such model training program; and

(B)

grants to State, tribal, or local agencies in order for such agencies to contract with eligible entities to provide State, tribal, or local case workers and other State, tribal, or local agency personnel responsible for administering the temporary assistance to needy families program established under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act in a State or Indian reservation with the training required under subparagraphs (B) and, if applicable, (C)(ii) of such section 402(a)(8).

(2)

Eligible entity defined

For purposes of paragraph (1)(B), the term eligible entity means an entity—

(A)

that is—

(i)

a State or tribal domestic violence coalition or sexual assault coalition;

(ii)

a State or local victim services organization with recognized expertise in the dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking whose primary mission is to provide services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, such as a rape crisis center or domestic violence program; or

(iii)

an organization with demonstrated expertise in State or county welfare laws and implementation of such laws and experience with disseminating information on such laws and implementation, but only if such organization will provide the required training in partnership with an entity described in clause (i) or (ii); and

(B)

that—

(i)

has demonstrated expertise in both domestic violence and sexual assault, such as a joint domestic violence and sexual assault coalition; or

(ii)

will provide the required training in partnership with an entity described in clause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph (A) in order to comply with the dual domestic violence and sexual assault expertise requirement under clause (i).

(3)

Application

An entity seeking a grant under this subsection shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such form and manner, and containing such information as the Secretary specifies.

(4)

Reports

(A)

Reports to Congress

The Secretary shall annually submit a report to Congress on the grant program established under this subsection.

(B)

Reports available to public

The Secretary shall establish procedures for the dissemination to the public of each report submitted under subparagraph (A). Such procedures shall include the use of the Internet to disseminate such reports.

(5)

Authorization of appropriations

(A)

Authorization

There are authorized to be appropriated—

(i)

$1,000,000 for fiscal year 2007 to carry out the provisions of paragraph (1)(A); and

(ii)

$12,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2010 to carry out the provisions of paragraph (1)(B).

(B)

Three-year availability of grant funds

Each recipient of a grant under this subsection shall return to the Secretary any unused portion of such grant not later than 3 years after the date the grant was awarded, together with any earnings on such unused portion.

(C)

Amounts returned

Any amounts returned pursuant to subparagraph (B) shall be available without further appropriation to the Secretary for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of paragraph (1)(B).

(e)

Effect on existing laws, etc

(1)

More protective laws, agreements, programs, and plans

Nothing in this title shall be construed to supersede any provision of any Federal, State, or local law, collective bargaining agreement, or employment benefits program or plan that provides greater unemployment insurance benefits for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking than the rights established under this title.

(2)

Less protective laws, agreements, programs, and plans

The rights established for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking under this title shall not be diminished by any more restrictive State or local law, collective bargaining agreement, or employment benefits program or plan.

(f)

Effective date

(1)

Unemployment amendments

(A)

In general

Except as provided in subparagraph (B) and paragraph (2), the amendments made by this section shall apply in the case of compensation paid for weeks beginning on or after the expiration of 180 days from the date of enactment of this Act.

(B)

Extension of effective date for State law amendment

(i)

In general

If the Secretary of Labor identifies a State as requiring a change to its statutes, regulations, or policies in order to comply with the amendments made by this section (excluding the amendment made by subsection (c)), such amendments shall apply in the case of compensation paid for weeks beginning after the earlier of—

(I)

the date the State changes its statutes, regulations, or policies in order to comply with such amendments; or

(II)

the end of the first session of the State legislature which begins after the date of enactment of this Act or which began prior to such date and remained in session for at least 25 calendar days after such date;

except that in no case shall such amendments apply before the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
(ii)

Session defined

In this subparagraph, the term session means a regular, special, budget, or other session of a State legislature.

(2)

TANF amendment

(A)

In general

Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the amendment made by subsection (c) shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.

(B)

Extension of effective date for State law amendment

In the case of a State plan under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act which the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines requires State legislation in order for the plan to meet the additional requirements imposed by the amendment made by subsection (c), the State plan shall not be regarded as failing to comply with the requirements of such amendment on the basis of its failure to meet these additional requirements before the first day of the first calendar quarter beginning after the close of the first regular session of the State legislature that begins after the date of enactment of this Act. For purposes of the previous sentence, in the case of a State that has a 2-year legislative session, each year of the session is considered to be a separate regular session of the State legislature.

III

Victims’ employment sustainability

301.

Short title

This title may be cited as the Victims’ Employment Sustainability Act.

302.

Purposes

The purposes of this title are, pursuant to the affirmative power of Congress to enact legislation under the portions of section 8 of article I of the Constitution relating to providing for the general welfare and to regulation of commerce among the several States, and under section 5 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution—

(1)

to promote the national interest in reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by enabling victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, and minimize the physical and emotional injuries from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and to reduce the devastating economic consequences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to employers and employees;

(2)

to promote the national interest in ensuring that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can recover from and cope with the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and participate in criminal and civil justice processes, without fear of adverse economic consequences from their employers;

(3)

to ensure that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can recover from and cope with the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and participate in criminal and civil justice processes, without fear of adverse economic consequences with respect to public benefits;

(4)

to promote the purposes of the 14th amendment to the Constitution by preventing sex-based discrimination and discrimination against victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking in employment, by addressing the failure of existing laws to protect the employment rights of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, by protecting the civil and economic rights of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and by furthering the equal opportunity of women for economic self-sufficiency and employment free from discrimination;

(5)

to minimize the negative impact on interstate commerce from dislocations of employees and harmful effects on productivity, employment, health care costs, and employer costs, caused by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including intentional efforts to frustrate women’s ability to participate in employment and interstate commerce; and

(6)

to accomplish the purposes described in paragraphs (1) through (5) by prohibiting employers from discriminating against actual or perceived victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers and protects the safety of all persons in the workplace.

303.

Prohibited discriminatory acts

(a)

In general

An employer shall not fail to hire, refuse to hire, discharge, or harass any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the individual (including retaliation in any form or manner), and a public agency shall not deny, reduce, or terminate the benefits of, otherwise sanction, or harass any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the amount, terms, or conditions of public assistance of the individual (including retaliation in any form or manner), because—

(1)

the individual involved—

(A)

is or is perceived to be a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;

(B)

attended, participated in, prepared for, or requested leave to attend, participate in, or prepare for, a criminal or civil court proceeding relating to an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking of which the individual, or the family or household member of the individual, was a victim; or

(C)

requested an adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement, including a transfer, reassignment, or modified schedule, leave, a changed telephone number or seating assignment, installation of a lock, or implementation of a safety procedure, in response to actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, regardless of whether the request was granted; or

(2)

the workplace is disrupted or threatened by the action of a person whom the individual states has committed or threatened to commit domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the individual, or the individual’s family or household member.

(b)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Discriminate

The term discriminate, used with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment or with respect to the terms or conditions of public assistance, includes not making a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations of an otherwise qualified individual—

(A)

who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;

(B)

who is—

(i)

an applicant or employee of the employer (including a public agency) that employs individuals as described in section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 603(e)(2)); or

(ii)

an applicant for or recipient of public assistance from a public agency; and

(C)

whose limitations resulted from circumstances relating to being a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;

unless the employer or public agency can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer or public agency.
(2)

Qualified individual

The term qualified individual means—

(A)

in the case of an applicant or employee described in paragraph (1)(B)(i), an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires; or

(B)

in the case of an applicant or recipient described in paragraph (1)(B)(ii), an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can satisfy the essential requirements of the program providing the public assistance that the individual receives or desires.

(3)

Reasonable accommodation

The term reasonable accommodation may include an adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement, including a transfer, reassignment, or modified schedule, leave, a changed telephone number or seating assignment, installation of a lock, or implementation of a safety procedure, in response to actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(4)

Undue hardship

(A)

In general

The term undue hardship means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considered in light of the factors set forth in subparagraph (B).

(B)

Factors to be considered

In determining whether a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of an employer or public agency, factors to be considered include—

(i)

the nature and cost of the reasonable accommodation needed under this section;

(ii)

the overall financial resources of the facility involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodation, the number of persons employed at such facility, the effect on expenses and resources, or the impact otherwise of such accommodation on the operation of the facility;

(iii)

the overall financial resources of the employer or public agency, the overall size of the business of an employer or public agency with respect to the number of employees of the employer or public agency, and the number, type, and location of the facilities of an employer or public agency; and

(iv)

the type of operation of the employer or public agency, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of the employer or public agency, the geographic separateness of the facility from the employer or public agency, and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility to the employer or public agency.

304.

Enforcement

(a)

Civil action by individuals

(1)

Liability

Any employer that violates section 303 shall be liable to any individual affected for—

(A)

damages equal to the amount of wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost to such individual by reason of the violation, and the interest on that amount calculated at the prevailing rate;

(B)

compensatory damages, including damages for future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment or life, and other nonpecuniary losses;

(C)

such punitive damages, up to 3 times the amount of actual damages sustained, as the court described in paragraph (2) shall determine to be appropriate; and

(D)

such equitable relief as may be appropriate, including employment, reinstatement, and promotion.

(2)

Right of action

An action to recover the damages or equitable relief prescribed in paragraph (1) may be maintained against any employer in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction by any 1 or more individuals described in section 303.

(b)

Action by department of justice

The Attorney General may bring a civil action in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction to recover the damages or equitable relief described in subsection (a)(1).

(c)

Library of Congress

Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, in the case of the Library of Congress, the authority of the Secretary under this section shall be exercised by the Librarian of Congress.

(d)

Certain public agency employers

(1)

Agencies

Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, in the case of a public agency that employs individuals as described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203(e)(2)) (other than an entity of the legislative branch of the Federal Government), paragraph (2) shall apply.

(2)

Authority

In the case described in subparagraph (A), the powers, remedies, and procedures provided (in the case of a violation of section 2302(b)(1)(A) of title 5, United States Code) in title 5, United States Code, to an employing agency, the Office of Special Counsel, the Merit Systems Protection Board, or any person alleging a violation of such section 2302(b)(1)(A), shall be the powers, remedies, and procedures this section provides in the case of a violation of section 303 to that agency, that Office, that Board, or any person alleging a violation of section 303, respectively, against an employee who is such an individual.

(e)

Public agencies providing public assistance

Consistent with regulations prescribed under section 306(d), the President shall ensure that any public agency that violates section 303(a) by taking an action prohibited under section 303(a) against any individual with respect to the amount, terms, or conditions of public assistance, shall provide to any individual who receives a less favorable amount, term, or condition of public assistance as a result of the violation—

(1)
(A)

the amount of any public assistance denied or lost to such individual by reason of the violation; and

(B)

the interest on the amount described in clause (i) calculated at the prevailing rate; and

(2)

such equitable relief as may be appropriate.

305.

Attorney’s fees

Section 722(b) of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C. 1988(b)) is amended by inserting the Victims’ Employment Sustainability Act, after title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,.

306.

Regulations

(a)

In general

Except as provided in subsections (b), (c), and (d), the Secretary shall issue regulations to carry out this title.

(b)

Library of Congress

The Librarian of Congress shall prescribe the regulations described in subsection (a) with respect to employees of the Library of Congress. The regulations prescribed under this subsection shall, to the extent appropriate, be consistent with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a).

(c)

Certain public agency employers

The Office of Personnel Management, after consultation under the Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board, shall prescribe the regulations described in subsection (a) with respect to individuals described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 3(e)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203(e)(2)) (other than an individual employed by an entity of the legislative branch of the Federal Government). The regulations prescribed under this subsection shall, to the extent appropriate, be consistent with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a).

(d)

Public agencies providing public assistance

The President shall prescribe the regulations described in subsection (a) with respect to applicants for and recipients of public assistance, in the case of violations of section 303(a) by taking an action prohibited under section 303(a) against any individual with respect to the amount, terms, or conditions of public assistance. The regulations prescribed under this subsection shall, to the extent appropriate, be consistent with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a).

IV

Victims of abuse insurance protection

401.

Short title

This title may be cited as the Victims of Abuse Insurance Protection Act.

402.

Definitions

In this title:

(1)

Abuse

The term abuse means the occurrence of 1 or more of the following acts by a current or former household or family member, intimate partner, or caretaker:

(A)

Attempting to cause or causing another person bodily injury, physical harm, substantial emotional distress, or psychological trauma.

(B)

Attempting to engage in or engaging in rape, sexual assault, or involuntary sexual intercourse.

(C)

Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority and under circumstances that place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or physical harm.

(D)

Subjecting another person to false imprisonment or kidnapping.

(E)

Attempting to cause or causing damage to property so as to intimidate or attempt to control the behavior of another person.

(2)

Health carrier

The term health carrier means a person that contracts or offers to contract on a risk-assuming basis to provide, deliver, arrange for, pay for, or reimburse any of the cost of health care services, including a sickness and accident insurance company, a health maintenance organization, a nonprofit hospital and health service corporation, or any other entity providing a plan of health insurance, health benefits, or health services.

(3)

Insured

The term insured means a party named on a policy, certificate, or health benefit plan, including an individual, corporation, partnership, association, unincorporated organization, or any similar entity, as the person with legal rights to the benefits provided by the policy, certificate, or health benefit plan. For group insurance, the term includes a person who is a beneficiary covered by a group policy, certificate, or health benefit plan. For life insurance, the term refers to the person whose life is covered under an insurance policy.

(4)

Insurer

The term insurer means any person, reciprocal exchange, inter insurer, Lloyds insurer, fraternal benefit society, or other legal entity engaged in the business of insurance, including agents, brokers, adjusters, and third-party administrators. The term includes employers who provide or make available employment benefits through an employee benefit plan, as defined in section 3(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 102(3)). The term also includes health carriers, health benefit plans, and life, disability, and property and casualty insurers.

(5)

Policy

The term policy means a contract of insurance, certificate, indemnity, suretyship, or annuity issued, proposed for issuance, or intended for issuance by an insurer, including endorsements or riders to an insurance policy or contract.

(6)

Subject of abuse

The term subject of abuse means—

(A)

a person against whom an act of abuse has been directed;

(B)

a person who has prior or current injuries, illnesses, or disorders that resulted from abuse; or

(C)

a person who seeks, may have sought, or had reason to seek medical or psychological treatment for abuse, protection, court-ordered protection, or shelter from abuse.

403.

Discriminatory acts prohibited

(a)

In general

No insurer may, directly or indirectly, engage in any of the following acts or practices on the basis that the applicant or insured, or any person employed by the applicant or insured or with whom the applicant or insured is known to have a relationship or association, is, has been, or may be the subject of abuse or has incurred or may incur abuse-related claims:

(1)

Denying, refusing to issue, renew, or reissue, or canceling or otherwise terminating an insurance policy or health benefit plan.

(2)

Restricting, excluding, or limiting insurance coverage for losses or denying a claim, except as otherwise permitted or required by State laws relating to life insurance beneficiaries.

(3)

Adding a premium differential to any insurance policy or health benefit plan.

(b)

Prohibition on limitation of claims

No insurer may, directly or indirectly, deny or limit payment to an insured who is a subject of abuse if the claim for payment is a result of the abuse.

(c)

Prohibition on termination

(1)

In general

No insurer or health carrier may terminate health coverage for a subject of abuse because coverage was originally issued in the name of the abuser and the abuser has divorced, separated from, or lost custody of the subject of abuse or the abuser’s coverage has terminated voluntarily or involuntarily and the subject of abuse does not qualify for an extension of coverage under part 6 of subtitle B of title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1161 et seq.) or section 4980B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

(2)

Payment of premiums

Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to prohibit the insurer from requiring that the subject of abuse pay the full premium for the subject’s coverage under the health plan if the requirements are applied to all insured of the health carrier.

(3)

Exception

An insurer may terminate group coverage to which this subsection applies after the continuation coverage period required by this subsection has been in force for 18 months if it offers conversion to an equivalent individual plan.

(4)

Continuation coverage

The continuation of health coverage required by this subsection shall be satisfied by any extension of coverage under part 6 of subtitle B of title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1161 et seq.) or section 4980B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 provided to a subject of abuse and is not intended to be in addition to any extension of coverage otherwise provided for under such part 6 or section 4980B.

(d)

Use of information

(1)

Limitation

(A)

In general

In order to protect the safety and privacy of subjects of abuse, no person employed by or contracting with an insurer or health benefit plan may (without the consent of the subject)—

(i)

use, disclose, or transfer information relating to abuse status, acts of abuse, abuse-related medical conditions, or the applicant’s or insured’s status as a family member, employer, associate, or person in a relationship with a subject of abuse for any purpose unrelated to the direct provision of health care services unless such use, disclosure, or transfer is required by an order of an entity with authority to regulate insurance or an order of a court of competent jurisdiction; or

(ii)

disclose or transfer information relating to an applicant’s or insured’s mailing address or telephone number or the mailing address and telephone number of a shelter for subjects of abuse, unless such disclosure or transfer—

(I)

is required in order to provide insurance coverage; and

(II)

does not have the potential to endanger the safety of a subject of abuse.

(B)

Rule of construction

Nothing in this paragraph may be construed to limit or preclude a subject of abuse from obtaining the subject’s own insurance records from an insurer.

(2)

Authority of subject of abuse

A subject of abuse, at the absolute discretion of the subject of abuse, may provide evidence of abuse to an insurer for the limited purpose of facilitating treatment of an abuse-related condition or demonstrating that a condition is abuse-related. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as authorizing an insurer or health carrier to disregard such provided evidence.

404.

Insurance protocols for subjects of abuse

Insurers shall develop and adhere to written policies specifying procedures to be followed by employees, contractors, producers, agents, and brokers for the purpose of protecting the safety and privacy of a subject of abuse and otherwise implementing this title when taking an application, investigating a claim, or taking any other action relating to a policy or claim involving a subject of abuse.

405.

Reasons for adverse actions

An insurer that takes an action that adversely affects a subject of abuse, shall advise the applicant or insured who is the subject of abuse of the specific reasons for the action in writing. For purposes of this section, reference to general underwriting practices or guidelines shall not constitute a specific reason.

406.

Life insurance

Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit a life insurer from declining to issue a life insurance policy if the applicant or prospective owner of the policy is or would be designated as a beneficiary of the policy, and if—

(1)

the applicant or prospective owner of the policy lacks an insurable interest in the insured; or

(2)

the applicant or prospective owner of the policy is known, on the basis of police or court records, to have committed an act of abuse against the proposed insured.

407.

Subrogation without consent prohibited

Subrogation of claims resulting from abuse is prohibited without the informed consent of the subject of abuse.

408.

Enforcement

(a)

Federal Trade Commission

Any act or practice prohibited by this title shall be treated as an unfair and deceptive act or practice pursuant to section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45) and the Federal Trade Commission shall enforce this title in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act were incorporated into and made a part of this title, including issuing a cease and desist order granting any individual relief warranted under the circumstances, including temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief and compensatory damages.

(b)

Private cause of action

(1)

In general

An applicant or insured who believes that the applicant or insured has been adversely affected by an act or practice of an insurer in violation of this title may maintain an action against the insurer in a Federal or State court of original jurisdiction.

(2)

Relief

Upon proof of such conduct by a preponderance of the evidence in an action described in paragraph (1), the court may award appropriate relief, including temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the costs of suit and reasonable fees for the aggrieved individual’s attorneys and expert witnesses.

(3)

Statutory damages

With respect to compensatory damages in an action described in paragraph (1), the aggrieved individual may elect, at any time prior to the rendering of final judgment, to recover in lieu of actual damages, an award of statutory damages in the amount of $5,000 for each violation.

409.

Effective date

This title shall apply with respect to any action taken on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

V

National clearinghouse and resource center on domestic and sexual violence in the workplace grant

501.

National clearinghouse and resource center on domestic and sexual violence in the workplace grant

(a)

Authority

The Attorney General may award a grant in accordance with this section to a private, nonprofit entity or tribal organization that meets the requirements of subsection (b), in order to provide for the establishment and operation of a national clearinghouse and resource center to provide information and assistance to employers, labor organizations, and advocates on behalf of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to aid in their efforts to develop and implement appropriate responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to assist those victims.

(b)

Applications

To be eligible to receive a grant under this section, an entity or organization shall submit an application to the Attorney General at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Attorney General may require, including—

(1)

information that demonstrates that the applicant—

(A)

has nationally recognized expertise in the area of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and a record of commitment to reducing, and quality responses to reduce, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and

(B)

will provide matching funds from non-Federal sources in an amount equal to not less than 10 percent of the total amount of the grant awarded under this section; and

(2)

a plan to maximize, to the extent practicable, outreach—

(A)

to employers (including private companies, and public entities such as public institutions of higher education and State and local governments) and labor organizations in developing and implementing appropriate responses to assist employees who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and

(B)

to advocates described in subsection (a), in developing and implementing appropriate responses to assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(c)

Use of grant amount

(1)

In general

An entity or organization that receives a grant under this section may use the funds made available through the grant for staff salaries, travel expenses, equipment, printing, and other reasonable expenses necessary to develop, maintain, and disseminate to employers, labor organizations, and advocates described in subsection (a), information on and assistance concerning appropriate responses to assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(2)

Responses

Responses referred to in paragraph (1) may include—

(A)

providing training to promote a better understanding of appropriate assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;

(B)

providing conferences and other educational opportunities;

(C)

developing protocols and model workplace policies;

(D)

providing employer- and labor organization-sponsored victim services and outreach counseling; and

(E)

conducting assessments of the workplace costs of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

(d)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011.

VI

Severability

601.

Severability

If any provision of this Act, any amendment made by this Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of the provisions of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the application of such provisions or amendments to any person or circumstance shall not be affected.