As October Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, I wanted to share with you a YouTube trailer that I came across which tells the story of a young woman’s tragic death at the hand’s of her husband. Amy Homan McGee was a young mother who suffered years of abuse and control by her husband and was tragically shot and killed by him when she finally took control of her life.
Amy’s co-workers were aware that she was being abused and helplessly stood by not knowing what to do to help her. Her story can be seen on PBS, or you can order the DVD. While I have not seen the special, nor am I being compensated in any way by PBS or Verizon, who funded this special, from watching the trailer I think that we can learn how to help our co-workers if we suspect they are the victims of domestic violence by watching this story.
In California, employees are protected from losing their job under the California Labor Code 230-230.1 as amended by 2000 Cal. Stat. 487 where victims of domestic violence are protected against discharge or discrimination for taking time off to seek protection orders or other judicial relief to help secure their own or their children’s safety or welfare. Firms with 25 or more employees must also allow workers job-guaranteed leave to seek medical attention for domestic violence-related injuries; obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center; receive psychological counseling; or participate in safety planning. The employee must give reasonable notice, if feasible. The employer may require certification of domestic violence: a police report, protection order, documentation from court or from a medical professional, domestic violence advocate or counselor. To the extent the law allows, the employer must maintain the employee’s confidentiality. An employee whose rights under this provision are violated can file a complaint with Dept. of Labor Standards Enforcement. They are also entitled to unemployment benefits. Workers who must leave their jobs to protect themselves or their children from domestic violence – “good cause” under the law – are eligible for unemployment benefits. The employer’s reserve will not be changed if the employer informs EDD of the circumstances within ten days of being notified of a claim. California Unemployment Insurance Code 1030, 1032, 1256. For more information about breaking the silence on domestic violence, click here.
If you are the victim of domestic violence or you are the co-worker of a victim of domestic violence, I hope that the above information is helpful to you and that you are aware of the help that is available. A great place to start is at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.