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Great News: California Joins 6 Other States to Help Victims of Domestic Violence

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By Barry Burch Jr.

Many are experiencing that awkward moment when they find out a new bill was signed into law that when they thought was already a law is happening for a great deal of people right now, especially in California.

Last Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a law that bars employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence and those who experience stalking or s*xual assault, as reported by Think Progress.

The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2014. Following its implementation it will be unlawful for an employer to base whether they hire or fire a person based on that person’s status as a victim. The law also requires employers to allow “reasonable” safety accommodations in the work place; for example, changing a work telephone number, relocating a desk, or implementing a workplace safety plan.

The bill came about after a California teacher, Carie Charlesworth, was fired following an incident, which included her abusive husband entering the school’s parking lot in search of her, causing the entire school to undergo a lockdown. Charlesworth let her voice be heard on the bill when she testified in favor of it. She said, “Victims should not have to continue suffering in silence due to the fear they have of losing their jobs.” She continued, they “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 signing into law of the bill now makes California the seventh state to join the group of states pioneering this admirable effort, which is putting the protection of victims of domestic violence as a top priority. The first six states are Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

The remaining question seems to be: what are the 43 others waiting on? In these states, life is tough for victims who are fired due to their abuse. There is no avenue for these people to take in order to obtain legal recourse. There was a federal law introduced in March to ensure victims of domestic violence who worked were protected in every state, but it has received little to no momentum, as it has yet to be referred to a committee or put on a schedule to be voted on.

Further, there are only 13 states, which mandate that victims can take leave without being terminated from their place of employment so that they may seek medical attention, recover from injuries, seek out services and legal assistance, get counseling, relocate, or participate in court proceedings, according to Think Progress. The laws are different depending on the location. Victims receive three days of unpaid time off in Colorado and 12 weeks in Connecticut.

The financial discrimination that victims have to endure goes beyond the workplace and penetrates their home lives as well. “Crime-free housing,” ordinances, for instance, which mean if the police get called a certain amount of times (sometimes once) you get evicted, are becoming more and more popular.

Barryburchjr@gmail.com