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California bill to protect domestic violence victims advances

A California State Assembly voted this week to approve a bill barring employers from discriminating against domestic violence victims. The scope of the bill also includes victims of stalking or sexual assault. The bill will move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee next.

In the proposed bill, it is a requirement that employers make reasonable accommodations in order to protect victims from their abusers. Such measures might be changing the location of a desk, changing a work phone number or creating a safety plan. There is no current bar against firing someone because they are a domestic violence victim. Only six states have laws that bar workplace discrimination against victims of sexual assault or domestic violence: Rhode Island, Oregon, New York, Illinois, Hawaii and Connecticut.

Since state level discrimination protection is limited, there have been frequent attempts to introduce legislation at the federal level; however, they have failed to get any traction. The most recent bill, the Security and Financial Empowerment Act, seeks to bar employers from discriminating against domestic violence and sexual assault victims. It was introduced in the house on March 15, 2013, and so far it has been referred to a committee and has not yet been scheduled for a vote.

The issue of domestic abuse often does affect the workplace. Almost 75 percent of domestic abuse victims report harassment by their partner while they are at work. Additionally, the fear of losing one's job can add to victimization. Three-quarters of women report staying with their abuser for a longer period of time because of economic insecurity. A California lawyer might be able to help people who have been discriminated against at their workplace. From sexual harassment to a hostile work environment, a lawyer may be able to help protect the rights of employees and help them receive fair compensation.

Source: Think Progress, "California Advances Bill To Protect Domestic Violence Victims From Employment Discrimination", Bryce Covert, June 28, 2013

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