California Bill Protecting Domestic Violence Victims from Workplace Discrimination Advances in State Assembly

The California State Assembly’s Committee on Judiciary last week passed a measure that would provide employment protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The Senate Bill 400 was already referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee after a 6-1 vote last June 25.

 

The proposed bill, which is sponsored by Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would require employers to make “reasonable efforts” to provide protection to victims from their abusers or stalkers by changing a work phone number or implementing a safety plan in the workplace, among others.

 

If signed into law, California will become the seventh state to have a legislation that will make it illegal for employers to discriminate or retaliate against victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault in any aspect of employment, following Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island. However, California Gov. Jerry Brown is yet to make a stand on this proposed bill.

 

At the time of the passage of the bill at the Assembly Floor, a California teacher, Carie Charlesworth, testified before the committee in favor of the bill. Charlesworth, a second-grade teacher of 14 years at Holy Trinity School in El Cajon, was terminated from her position last April after a January 28 incident wherein her estranged husband went to campus.

 

The man, who verbally and emotionally abused Charlesworth for several years, was arrested following a preventive lockdown at the campus. She was put on leave, but her four children were not allowed to attend classes. She was later fired.

 

Before the committee, she explained as to why fear of termination is definitely a concern for victims of abuse like her. “Victims need to be able to speak up about what is happening so they can get the help they need to leave their abusive situation,” she said.

 

Aside from the scarcity of employment protection for abuse victims on the state level, bills are yet to make strides despite frequent introductions from federal legislators. A proposed bill called the Security and Financial Empowerment Act had been introduced in the House last March 15, but is yet to be referred to a committee.

 

Meanwhile, employment lawyers praised the SB 400’s passage in the State Assembly, saying that this proposed bill is a step on the right direction in protecting the welfare of abuse victims in the workplace.

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Answers for Your Pregnancy Leave Questions

Pregnancy is such a delicate time for any expecting mother as the unborn baby inside her tummy needs the most care, to make sure that the baby will be born into this world healthy. With an abundance of women in the workplace, including expectant moms, the government is trying their best to come up with and implement laws to help protect the rights, health, and safety of pregnant women in the workplace.

 

On January 1, 2013, the state of California has come up with new CA pregnancy regulations. Here are some of the changes made to help soon-to-be moms and companies better understand these new regulations.

 

•    Pregnant women are allowed to take up to four months of leave of absence. While most employers allow up to 16 weeks of leave, the state clarified that the actual conversion of the maximum allowable 4 months of leave is 17 and 1/3 weeks. However, the total number of leave days or hours will also depend on the attendance of the employee and the leaves that she has used up during her pregnancy.

 
•    With the new regulation in place, employers should give advance written notice to their employees that concern their rights and responsibilities when taking a pregnancy leave. Employers can check two notices, Notice A (For those with less than 50 employees) and Notice B (For those with more than 50 employees) from http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/Publications/NOTICE%20A.pdf and http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/Publications/NOTICE%20B.pdf respectively. Also, employees must distribute the notice via posting it in a conspicuous space,  giving it directly to the pregnant employee, by publishing it in a rewritten or updated employee handbook, or by distributing it annually. If an employer must also provide a translated version of the notice if their workforce comprises of more than 10 percent that speaks other languages than English.

 
•    Pregnant women can still use pregnancy leaves before they actually give birth. According to a Los Angeles attorney, this is mentioned in the law. New regulations say that a woman can use leave credits while she is disabled by her pregnancy.

 
•    A woman who has a “perceived pregnancy” or someone who’s pregnant, or suffering from a medical condition related to pregnancy should also be allowed to take a leave.

 
•    It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the full 4 months of leave and ensure that the reason why a female employee is taking a leave is really because of pregnancy.

 
•    An employee can ask for adjustments from her employer before she takes a pregnancy is it is really needed.

 
•    The pregnant employee’s health coverage must be maintained by the employer. Also, the employer must keep the job position of the pregnant female employee as much as possible unless the employer needs to layoff workers.

 
•    It is the responsibility of the pregnant employee to provide her employer the necessary medical certification when requesting for any leave of absence related to her condition.

 

 

An employer is bound to follow the following changes in the regulation or the female employee can ask for the help of employment lawyers to file the necessary complaints against the former. With the challenges that come with a pregnant female worker, companies must extend every kind of help that they could to make this very difficult situation easier for their workers.