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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesDomestic Violence Victims' Rights Bill Approved By Committee

Domestic Violence Victims' Rights Bill Approved By Committee

Employers will not be able to fire or demote an employee as a consequence of an abuser or stalker showing up at their workplace, if a bill passed unanimously by the Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee on Wednesday becomes law.
An employer can demand the worker get a restraining order after the first workplace disturbance but cannot fire or suspend the worker or use the situation as a reason not to promote him or her.
Additionally, a worker who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault could not be penalized for taking time off work to get medical treatment, court orders, social services or other measures to address the problem. But the worker would have to back up their claims with notes or certifications from counselors, law enforcement or social service agencies.
Sen. Alvin Williams first proposed a version of the bill back in 2007, and it was held in committee for revisions in 2008.
Police and Human Services officials and domestic violence counselors all testified that workplace harassment was a serious problem, both for victims and business owners.
“The domestic violence unit responds to a great number of calls a year, ranging from police assistance to murder," said Police Commissioner Novelle Francis. This bill "allows us to better protect the victims of domestic violence and provide them the comfort level to pursue these cases and avoid further victimization, thereby in some instances saving lives," he said.
Commissioner of Human Services Chris Finch cited an academic journal article to make the point that domestic violence harms survivors’ ability to find and keep work. Batterers often actually try to sabotage their victim’s economic situation because a person who is employed is more likely to escape and achieve independence from the abuser, Finch said.
Iris Kern, a special advisor to the police commissioner and attorney general on domestic and sexual violence, said homicide was the leading cause of death on the job for women in 2000, and that 74 percent of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while at work.
Voting unanimously to send the bill on with a favorable recommendation were: Williams, Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone, Wayne James, Celestino White, Terrence “Positive” Nelson, Patrick Sprauve and Sammuel Sanes. Next, the bill will be considered by the Rules and Judiciary Committee.

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