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CA May Need Work Protections For Survivors Of Domestic Violence

A second grade teacher at a Catholic school in San Diego was fired after her ex-husband violated a restraining order by appearing on campus one day. Not only is Carie Charlesworth no longer welcome at her job, her four children are no longer allowed to attend the school because of what the school calls the unpredictability of her ex-husband’s actions and the potential threat he poses to other students and faculty.

Charlesworth has been barred from teaching at any of the other Catholic schools within the local diocese as well, a district in which she’d worked for the past 14 years. Despite being behind bars, school administrators felt Charlesworth’s ex was reason enough to terminate her teaching position. Whether the termination was wrongful or not will likely be determined by the legal system.

Santa Barbara Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced a bill earlier this year that would prohibit workplace discrimination against survivors of domestic violence. The proposed legislation would carve out employment protections for those who have experienced domestic violence: their employers could not fire them or treat them differently simply because another person had sexually assaulted them, committed domestic violence or stalked them.

The bill would require employers to take reasonable steps to protect workers, including allowing them to change desk or office locations, change work phone numbers and create a safety plan.

The employment protections promised by the bill may be long overdue. A study completed in 2011 by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center noted that as many as 40 percent of survivors of domestic violence employed in California feared losing their jobs or otherwise being discriminated against in the workplace because of the violence they’d experienced.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Carie Charlesworth, Teacher, Fired After Being Abused,” June 13, 2013

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