Fired for an abusive husband?

Carie Charlesworth was fired from her job as a teacher because her abusive husband came after her at work.1 Lakisha Briggs’ ex-boyfriend beat her so badly that she was airlifted to the hospital–and then she was evicted because the police call that probably saved her life violated the town’s “nuisance ordinance.”2

In 44 states, it’s completely legal to fire somebody because they are a survivor of domestic violence.3 In many cities and towns, survivors are being evicted for calling the police on their abusers, because of so-called nuisance ordinances.4 Discrimination against survivors of abuse is all too common–and totally legal in most of the country. Only a handful of states have laws to ban this sort of discrimination.5

Congress can put a stop to some of this of discrimination by passing the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act. This bill would protect women who are survivors of abuse from employer backlash and would ban discrimination in hiring.6 After VAWA finally passed, many members of Congress are ready to do more for women who have survived abuse. If tens of thousands of us tell Congress we want the SAFE Act to be a priority, it will give the bill the momentum it needs to begin moving forward. Can you sign the petition?

Being fired or evicted for surviving domestic violence is a devastating blow to vulnerable women who rely on their jobs for their livelihood and their ability to escape an abusive situation–and it’s just plain unfair. Fear of discrimination at work discourages survivors from reporting abuse, and keeps them financially dependent on abusers so they aren’t able to leave. One study found that three-quarters of women stayed with an abuser because of economic reasons.7 “We know that economic abuse is frequent in these situations, and abusers often try to get the survivor fired in order to increase her financial dependency on him,” Kim Gandy of the National Network to End Domestic Violence told ThinkProgress last week.8

The SAFE Act doesn’t just ban employers from firing domestic violence survivors. It allows survivors who need to leave their job for their safety to access unemployment benefits–a vital lifeline for a woman who might have been forced to uproot her entire life to protect herself and her children.9

State legislatures are also tackling the issue of discrimination against domestic violence survivors. California’s state senate is currently considering a bill that would ban discrimination, and the ACLU has challenged domestic violence-related evictions in multiple states.10 If we all stand up for survivors of abuse now, we can give the SAFE Act the momentum it needs, and help push for new protections in key states as well. Can you sign?

Sign the petition.

Thanks for speaking out.

Sources:

1. In All But Six States, You Can Be Fired For Being A Victim Of Domestic Violence, ThinkProgress, June 20, 2013

2. Briggs v. Borough of Norristown et al., ACLU

3. In All But Six States, You Can Be Fired For Being A Victim Of Domestic Violence, ThinkProgress, June 20, 2013

4. Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police, ACLU, April 24, 2013

5. In All But Six States, You Can Be Fired For Being A Victim Of Domestic Violence, ThinkProgress, June 20, 2013

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Rep. Roybal-Allard Introduces Legislation to Aid Victims of Domestic Violence, Rep. Roybal-Allard, March 18, 2013

Murray Introduces Legislation Guaranteeing Financial Protections to Victims of Abuse, Sen. Murray, Oct 1, 2009

10. In All But Six States, You Can Be Fired For Being A Victim Of Domestic Violence, ThinkProgress, June 20, 2013

Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police, ACLU, April 24, 2013

 

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