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California Assembly Approves Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims From Employment Discrimination

The California State Assembly voted to approve a bill this week that would protect victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault from employment discrimination. 

Carie Charlesworth, a second grade teacher who was fired when her estranged husband showed up at her school, testified before the judiciary committee in Sacramento on Tuesday.

When Charlesworth’s ex-husband showed up her Catholic school’s parking lot, the school was put on lockdown. He was sent to jail, and Charlesworth lost her job in April. The school believed her ex-husband’s behavior was a risk to student and staff safety. Her own children attended the school, and they were asked to leave as well.

“I just want to help make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to others,” Charlesworth told the committee. “People need to know they don’t have to live that way.”

SB 400 would ban retaliation against victims. Employers would have to provide “reasonable accommodations” to ensure their worker’s safety.

“We couldn’t possibly jeopardize innocent children to justify her return,” Tom Beecher, director of the diocese’s Office for Schools, wrote in an undated letter to parishioners, parents and others when Charlesworth was fired. The school didn’t consider the safety of an innocent teacher and her children their responsibility.

“I was treated like the criminal,” Charlesworth said of her termination. “My world fell apart. I felt victimized all over again.”

While the judiciary committee passed the bill with a 6-1 vote, Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to take a stance on the bill.

Business groups opposing SB 400 say it exposes them to more litigation.

A report released by the World Health Organization on this month found some 35 percent of all women globally will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

WHO calls violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.”

Their data showed 38 percent of all women murdered around the world were killed by intimate partners. Intimate partner violence is the most common violence against females, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide.

Sources: ThinkProgress, UT San Diego


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