California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Friday that will ban employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, effective January 1.
The law, SB 400, would prohibit an employer from firing or “in any manner discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of the employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.” The law entitles victims to reasonable safety accommodations and procedures in the workplace, like changing a work phone number or implementing a safety plan.
The bill was introduced after teacher Carie Charlesworth was fired when her abusive husband came to her school’s parking lot and the school had to go into lockdown.
Economic constraints often contribute to a victim’s decision to stay in abusive relationships, so helping them keep their jobs will allow some victims to leave the relationships sooner. “I commend the Governor for signing this bill, which protects victims from job loss and discrimination at a time when they most need support and a steady paycheck,” said the bill’s author, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), in a statement. “Victims will no longer fear losing their livelihoods and being re-victimized in the workplace because of the actions of their abusers.”
Only six other states and Puerto Rico have discrimination protections for victims, and only thirteen mandate that victims can take leave without getting fired to seek medical attention, recover from injuries, obtain legal assistance or counseling, or access other forms of assistance related to their abuse. A federal law providing these protections was introduced in March by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California).
Media Resources: California Legislative Information 10/11/13; ThinkProgress 10/15/13; Feminist Newswire 6/14/13; Legal Aid Society Employment Center 10/11/13; Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Press Releases 10/11/13; United States Legislative Information
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