Governor Paterson Signs into Law Assemblywoman Paulin’s Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims from Workplace Discrimination

Yesterday Gov. Paterson made history by signing into law Assemblywoman Paulin’s important legislation to protect victims of domestic violence and stalking from workplace discrimination.

It will now be illegal to refuse to hire or to terminate employment of an individual based on their status as a victim, or suspected victim of domestic violence or stalking. The legislation will go into effect immediately. It is the first bill of its kind in New York State.

The bill’s purpose is twofold; it will protect the immediate needs of domestic violence victims in their jobs and protect victims from unfair discrimination during hiring and termination processes.

“Financial security is one of the most important factors in whether a victim of domestic violence will be able to separate from an abusive partner,” said Assemblywoman Paulin. “We are proud that this legislation will help victims maintain their jobs without fear of unfair termination.”

Abusers frequently try to control their partners by interfering with their ability to work, including preventing them from going to work, causing disruptions at their workplace and limiting their access to money or transportation. This bill ensures that these types of actions will not influence the employment status of the victim at work.

Additionally, addressing incidents of domestic violence requires time and energy, and often, victims must leave work to handle the legal implications of abuse, attend court, and/or speak with law enforcement officials. The bill will protect the victims’ right to leave work to pursue their legal cases.

Domestic violence does not only create financial issues for the victims, it affects the economy as a whole. It is estimated that domestic violence costs employers $3 to $5 billion a year in lost days of work and reduced productivity, nationally. New York cannot afford to lose more of its workforce in these hard economic times.

The bill was sponsored In the Senate by Craig Johnson (D-7th District). “I am proud to have partnered with Assemblywoman Paulin to ensure that this critically important measure became law,” said Sen. Johnson.

The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NOW and the Association of the Bar of NYC supported Assemblywoman Paulin’s bill and are celebrating its passage into law.

“Adding victims as a protected class to human rights law takes a meaningful step toward eliminating one of the primary reasons survivors lose their employment,” said Patti Jo Newell, Acting CEO of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “This law will help support survivors in their efforts to gain independence from abusers.”