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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 2nd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 17

Bill aims to prevent victims from being fired

BY AMY ASMAN

A bill that would prevent employers from firing or discriminating against employees who’ve been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking passed out of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 28.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 400 would also require employers to make reasonable efforts to protect victims from their abusers or stalkers, such as changing their work telephone numbers, relocating their desks, or implementing a workplace safety plan.

“A workplace safety plan, frankly, is something that in today’s professional environment all workplaces should have,” Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill’s author, told the Sun.

Jackson said approximately 40 percent of women who are victims of these crimes are fired or are afraid they’re going to be fired if they speak out.

For example, San Diego resident Carie Charlesworth recently made national news headlines when she was let go from her teaching job after her ex-husband visited her school campus. Even though Charlesworth filed a restraining order against her husband, school officials reportedly told her she was “too much of a security risk” to employ and refused to renew her contract.

Charlesworth testified in support of the bill on June 28, telling the committee: “Victims should not have to continue suffering in silence due to the fear they have of losing their jobs. Victims need to be able to speak up about what is happening so they can get the help they need to leave their abusive situation. The fear of losing their job—the way they can support themselves and their families after they leave an abuser—should not be a burden they have to carry.”

Jackson said her bill would prevent women, and some men, from being revictimized by their employers.

“Our society for too long has told the victim that they have to change their behavior even though they didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “The bill puts ownership on the perpetrator, not the victim—and it will take steps to protect the workforce and the workplace.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.