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A new California law bans employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. It also requires businesses to make what the law calls reasonable accommodation for workers who notify employers of their concerns.


According to


Lawmakers in California have passed legislation that gives victims extra protection against workplace discrimination. Starting on January 1, 2014, employers in California will be prohibited from discriminating against workers based on their status as victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. The protections apply equally to both men and women.


Under the terms of the legislation, workers are protected against wrongful termination, demotion, and other adverse employment actions taken as a result of their victim status. In addition, the law requires employers to provide reasonable safety accommodations to workers who need to be protected from their abuser or assailant. These accommodations could be as simple as moving a desk or changing a phone number, or as complex as creating a safety plan in case the abuser threatens the workplace.


The law's sponsors say they pursued the legislation after hearing from victims who felt that they had to choose between staying silent and keeping their jobs. In many cases, the income and stability that a secure job provides can make all the difference for someone trying to escape an abusive relationship or otherwise recover from a traumatic life event.


Moreover, lawmakers hope that the added protections will give victims an incentive to report potential safety threats to their employers. Often, proactive reporting can help employers mitigate threats to employee safety before they occur.


In passing this legislation, California became the seventh state to prohibit discrimination against victims of domestic abuse. In addition to these new protections, current state law gives workers in California the ability to take “reasonable” time off in order to seek out counseling, care, or other rehabilitative services.


Capital Public Radio reported recently that Carie Charlesworth lost her job last year as a teacher at a private elementary school in San Diego after her ex-husband showed up on campus after they had been having some issues.


“And the school went into lockdown, and I lost my job due to that, and my children were forced to leave their school because they attended that school as well,” says Charlesworth.


The new California law wouldn’t apply Charlesworth, because she taught at a private school. But, she says, it's important that victims of domestic violence can speak to their employers about what’s going on. [January 20, 2014]

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