Tuesday, November 12, 2013

California Becomes 7th State to Forbid Employment Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence

Employees in California who had been victims of domestic violence can now rejoice after Governor Jerry Brown  signed last October 11 Senate Bill 400, a bill that would provide them protections against employment discrimination.

Stop domestic violence!
Image: chetna-dfw.org

Effective at the start of 2014, the newly-signed bill makes it unlawful for covered California employers to discriminate or retaliate against, or wrongfully terminate employees who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The legislation also requires employers to provide victims reasonable safety accommodations, including changing a work phone number and implementing a safety plan within the workplace, among others.

SB 400 was sponsored by Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). With the signing of the bill, California became just the seventh state to forbid workplace bias against victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault in any aspect of employment, following Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

It can be remembered that the introduction of SB 400 in the legislature was primarily brought into the spotlight after an incident involving a California teacher named Carie Chatsworth. She was a second-grade teacher of 14 years at an elementary school in El Cajon when she was fired last April after her estranged husband who verbally and emotionally abused her for several years went to the school’s parking lot, causing the campus to go on a preventive lockdown.

The man was later arrested; however, Chatsworth later received a notice telling her that the events that transpired involving her former husband resulted in her contract to teach for the school to not be renewed.

Long before the bill was passed and was still being heard in the California Senate, Chatsworth testified before a Senate committee, explaining the need of victims “to be able to speak up about what is happening so they can get the help they need to leave their abusive situation.” Fortunately, the bill was passed, thanks to the all-out support from its sponsors, as well as civil rights groups.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles employment lawyers see this recent legislation as a great way to extend employment protections to employees working in California. With the passage of the bill, legal professionals believe that victims of domestic violence are no longer at risk of losing their jobs.