Friday, June 26, 2009

Urge Governor Paterson to Sign A755-A / S958-B into Law to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence From Discrimination in the Workplace

A775A/S958B Bill Passes NYS Assembly and NYS Senate

Take Action!
Urge Governor Paterson to sign this Legislation into Law

NOW-NYS has just learned that the legislation below has passed the Assembly and Senate. It is time to urge Governor Paterson to sign it into law.
This bill gives protection to domestic violence victims by not allowing employers to discriminate against them.

The National Organization for Women-New York State, Inc. strongly supports A-755-A/ S-958-B, which will protect victims of domestic violence from being discriminated against by employers. This bill prevents employers from refusing to hire or employ, from barring or discharging, and from discriminating in compensation terms against actual or perceived victims of domestic violence. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, one in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime; up to 6 million women are physically abused annually. This means that 25% of women may be affected by this type of discrimination should they attempt to work and become financially independent in order to escape an abuser.

One of the main reasons that women are forced to continue living with their abuser is their lack of financial independence and resources. The ability to find and hold down a job is essential in order to break away from the abuser. In this vicious cycle, however, many abused women are unable to perform to their best professional ability because of the abusive situation in their home. Often, victims need time away from work for any number of reasons, such as: conferring with an attorney or domestic violence counselor, appearing in court, to seek medical attention, arrange for alternative housing or recuperate from injuries. Victims may be embarrassed or fearful of losing her job and is therefore reluctant to inform her employer of the circumstances of her life. "We want to encourage victims of domestic violence to disclose their abuse if it is affecting their work," said Jean Haertl, Director of Workplace Violence Prevention in Massachusetts. "Less than 10 percent of businesses have a policy on workplace violence that includes domestic violence. We don't think about it until someone is killed."

Because of her need for flexible hours or time off to protect herself, a victim of domestic violence is commonly terminated or demoted. This termination has a restrictive effect on her financial resources thus hindering her ability to protect herself. Donna Kausek, domestic violence specialist for Partners HealthCare, states, "We want to keep victims working. If someone is not working, it gives the perpetrator more access to the victim, and the victim has less financial support to help provide additional safety."

This legislation will make it unlawful for an employer or licensing agency to discriminate against victims of domestic violence in hiring or employment practices, helping to ensure the safety as well as the economic viability of victims and their children or dependents. The National Organization for Women-New York State, Inc. strongly urges legislators to pass bill A-755-A/ S-958-B.

Urge Governor Paterson to sign this bill into law.

Posted by:
Jerin Alam
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force
President, Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition (HWRC)

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