New Measure Aims To Protect Crime Victims From Work Discrimination

Monday, 13 May 2013, 2:16:00 PM

Mirror Staff

State Senator Ted W. Lieu, who represents Santa Monica and the South Bay, announced today victims of crime who want to attend court proceedings involving their alleged perpetrator would have greater protections from fear and discrimination under his measure approved today by the Senate.

“Victims of crime in California have a constitutional right to attend all court proceedings related to the crime,” Lieu said about Senate Bill 288 after the Senate’s 34-0 vote. “These rights are not protected from employment discrimination within the Labor Code, however, and this bill corrects this problem by ensuring employment protections for those who choose to exercise their constitutional rights without fear of discrimination or retribution from their employer.”

Lieu, chair of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, said current law prohibits discrimination or retaliation by an employer against an employee who takes time off to serve as a juror, to appear in court as a witness pursuant to a subpoena or other court order, or who is a domestic violence or sexual assault victim and is obtaining or attempting to obtain a restraining order or other injunctive relief for the health, safety, or welfare of the victim or his or her child.

Senate Bill 288 would amend state law to provide that employers may not discharge, discriminate against or retaliate against an employee who is a victim of specified offenses for taking time off from work to appear in court to be heard at any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.

SB 288 would apply to those who have suffered direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of a commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act. 

Under SB 288 a victim also includes a person’s spouse, parent, child, sibling or guardian.  This is the same definition of victim contained in California’s constitution.

Specifically, SB 288 provides employment protections for victims of the most serious and violent crimes, including: Murder and solicitation of murder; kidnapping; carjacking; rape, stalking, and domestic violence;  sex offenses; DUI vehicular manslaughter and other vehicular deaths; and child abuse the caused significant harm or death

“While victims have a California constitutional right to attend all court proceedings, they are not currently protected from employment discrimination if they choose to exercise their constitutional right,” Lieu said. “This bill will provide victims the peace of mind they deserve.”

SB 288 now faces review by the Assembly. No initial hearing date has yet been set.

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