• Domestic Violence in the Louisiana Workplace, Part 8: Victim Protection Laws and Benefits
  • January 17, 2017 | Author: Rachael M. Coe
  • Law Firm: Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. - New Orleans Office
  • It is not a matter of if, but when an employer will be confronted with a challenging domestic violence-related issue in the workplace. Domestic violence not only causes lost productivity and increased costs for employers, but also raises a host of potential legal obligations and liabilities that employers cannot afford to overlook. In this monthly series, Labor and Employment attorney Rachael Coe will discuss the various ways that domestic violence impacts the Louisiana workplace and what employers need to know in order to protect their employees, their customers, and themselves.

    There are many resources to aid domestic violence victims and maintain their safety which this series has addressed in previous installments (See Parts 4 and 7 of this series). This month’s edition of Domestic Violence in the Louisiana Workplace focuses on two lesser-known benefits that employers may encounter: insurance portability and confidential addresses.

    Louisiana’s insurance portability law assists domestic abuse victims by protecting his or her insurance coverage after separating from the abuser. The law permits a spouse who suffered from domestic abuse (and his or her dependents) to convert their dependent insurance to an individual policy upon a judgment of divorce or legal separation from the abuser. All of the benefits and copayments provided by the policy must remain the same. In order to obtain this benefit, the abused spouse must provide written notice to the insurer within 30 days of the termination of coverage, and must also provide a copy of the court order confirming the divorce or separation. La. R.S. § 22:1078(C). Moreover, Louisiana insurers cannot restrict, exclude, or limit coverage based on domestic abuse status; add a differential rate because of domestic abuse status; or deny or limit claim payment because the claim resulted from the insured’s domestic abuse status. Of course, the insurance company may be the primary party handling this issue, but it is an important benefit for employers to know about.

    Another Louisiana law that employers be familiar with is Louisiana’s “Address Confidentiality Program,” which is administered by the Secretary of State. This program provides a victim of abuse with a “substitute address” to use for applying and receiving government services and delivering mail. Louisiana residents who are victims of sexual assault, stalking, or abuse, who fear for their safety, and who plan to relocate to a new physical address can enroll in the program to reduce the risk that the abuser will learn of the victim’s new location. This service decreases the chances that an abuser can find a victim’s physical address in public record and protects the victim’s residential, school, and work address. The confidential address will remain in place for 4 years, but can be renewed.

    The law states that private employers “are not required to accept the substitute address; however, upon request, many companies use the substitute address.” 4 La. ADC Pt. XIX, § 111(B). Furthermore, the regulations encourage the victim to use the confidential address with “work associates” to maintain confidentiality. Therefore, even though there is not a mandate that private employers use the substitute address, using the confidential address may be a wise addition to an employee’s safety plan to decrease the risk of a violent incident occurring in the workplace.