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Fact Sheet 4: Family Violence And The Law
The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide an overview of some legal remedies available to victims of family violence. A number of different laws, both federal and provincial, provide protection for employers and their employees when family violence spills over into the workplace. These laws present opportunities for employers to address family violence that comes into the workplace, while posing some potential challenges for employers in the form of liability.
You should know where to direct victimized employees for law information and services. Unfortunately, many people still believe that physical violence in the home is a private family matter. Misinformation and lack of access to accurate information act as barriers to addressing family violence. You can play a direct and active role in educating your workforce and facilitating employees’ access to information, services and resources that answer basic questions about the law and legal process. (Note: Remember, an employee requiring specific advice on his or her particular situation should see a lawyer. Legal advice and representation are clearly in the realm of legal professionals.)
Here is an overview of some laws impacting on family violence and some remedies.
Criminal Law Remedies
The Criminal Code of Canada sets out the offences that may apply to situations of family violence. The criminal law is used to convict the offender of a criminal offence. It may also impose a fine, a jail sentence, or a probationary period that restricts specific conduct. This can help protect the victim, and other employees from further abuse in the workplace. In addition to crimes such as murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and criminal negligence, family violence victims may experience offences such as:
Failing to provide the necessaries of life:
Services for Victims
Victim Services Offices around the province can:
• Provide information on the criminal justice process
For more information, call the nearest Victim Services Office:
Here are some other remedies that may be available to victims of family violence:
• In New Brunswick, the provincial Human Rights Act prohibits any action in the workplace that is degrading, offensive or threatening.
• The New Brunswick Occupational Health and Safety Act encourages both employees and employers to assess specific workplace hazards. It says, “Any employee who believes that an act is likely to endanger his or any other employee’s health or safety shall immediately report his concern to his supervisor who shall promptly investigate the situation in the presence of the employee.”
• Peace bonds are often suggested in situations where someone fears for their safety from their spouse, partner or family members. A “peace bond” or “recognizance” is an agreement that a person makes with the Court, promising to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour”. Peace bonds are NOT appropriate in situations where a crime has already been committed. A peace bond is a way to try to prevent assault. Anyone who is afraid that another person is likely to harm them, their spouse or child or their property may seek a peace bond order from the Court. The peace bond could include provisions for the aggressor to stay away from the person’s workplace.
• Civil law solutions may also be important for victims of family violence. They include court orders that the abuser pay the victim money to compensate for losses from injuries; restraining orders; and orders to keep the abuser out of the family home. Civil remedies include family law matters. Employees who end the relationship with the abuser may have to deal with the division of any property, custody of the children, support, and divorce. New Brunswick has a “free” parenting after separation course to help parents deal with the legal and emotional issues of separation, especially in high conflict situations. The toll-free number is 1- 888-236-2444. Victims of spousal abuse are eligible for assistance from the Domestic Legal Aid program in their area.
• Many employers, through their collective agreements, policies and procedures, can promote safe and respectful work environments.