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Domestic violence victims facing workplace discrimination

A type of workplace discrimination that is perhaps not so new has increasingly received media attention over the past few years. It has become clear that a vulnerable population of American domestic violence victims is not only suffering mistreatment at home but also often at work as well. In one recent case, a California teacher was allegedly subject to wrongful termination after her abusive ex-husband violated the terms of his restraining order and confronted her at her workplace.

The school administration dismissed the teacher citing fear for the students’ safety. On the one hand, it is completely understandable that school administration would do whatever it takes to protect students and staff. On the other hand, the teacher in question was a member of the staff. Rather than helping to ensure that her abusive ex-husband would no longer intimidate her on school property, the administration simply left the already vulnerable woman without access to a safe workplace and ultimately left her unemployed.

To make matters even more challenging, the school has also dismissed the teacher’s four children from their classes as well. This last point serves to underscore just how damaging it can be for employers to engage in discrimination against domestic abuse victims. Not only is such treatment blatantly wrong, it tends to affect the safety and well-being of both victims and their children.

Employers have a vested interest in keeping their workplaces safe. When confronted with a domestic abuser, an employer’s response should be focused on keeping all employees safe, including the domestic violence victim. It may come to a point where federal regulators are compelled to remind employers that discrimination against domestic violence victims is generally unacceptable and specifically illegal.

Source: Huffington Post, “Teacher, Fired After Being Abused,” Simon McCormack, June 13, 2013

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