Blaming the victims

Last week, Carie Charlesworth, a teacher in California and a victim of domestic violence, was fired from her job because her abusive husband invaded the school parking lot and put the school on lockdown, writes a story in ThinkProgress today.images-1“While her abuser was sent to prison, she was also punished for his crime by losing her employment.

“The school’s action -– firing her because she is a victim of domestic abuse –- is sadly legal in most states. Just six, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island,have laws on the books that bar employment discrimination against victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault, according to an up-to-date document tracking these laws from Legal Momentum. State Senators in California introduced a non-discrimination bill in February, which has been referred to committee.

“Illinois and Hawaii, as well as New York City and Westchester County, go further to mandate that employers offer victims reasonable accommodations so that they can stay at work: “things like allowing you to change your work telephone number or changing a shift so someone can’t stalk you and find you,” Michelle Caiola, a senior staff attorney at Legal Momentum, told ThinkProgress. Fourteen states protect victims who need to take time off of work to go to counseling, court, or seek medical attention due to their abuse.

“For their part, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that only about 15 percent of employershave a workplace policy that specifically addresses domestic violence.”

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