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California senator introduces new victim law

A California state senator recently fielded a new bill designed to safeguard those employees who participate in court hearings against workplace retaliation. Senate Bill 288 adds to current state regulations by prohibiting employers from firing or discriminating against employees who appear in court because of certain specified offenses. This bill addresses victims who have suffered from a wide range of crimes, including serious offenses like sexual assault, domestic violence, kidnapping and murder. In addition to safeguarding those who suffer directly, the new bill will provide for spouses, parents, children and guardians.

The senator who introduced the law, which is currently awaiting Assembly review, pointed out that California victims already have the right to be present at court sessions. However, he also noted that there is no accompanying law to protect these individuals from workplace discrimination if they take advantage of such rights.

Workers in California who take time off of work to appear in court may be subject to various forms of discrimination by employers. In addition to reducing a worker's ability to remain gainfully employed, such practices can make workplaces distinctly uncomfortable for individuals and lead to serious depression and emotional trauma. Employers who discriminate may not do so in an overt fashion, but the effects of their actions are severe nonetheless.

Many individuals who suffer at the hands of others are afraid to seek legal recourse. Discriminatory employers and other abusive individuals often try to intimidate victims into maintaining their silence. Legal advisors may be able to help these individuals build stronger cases that let them take full advantage of the law and secure compensation.

Source: Santa Monica Mirror, "New Measure Aims To Protect Crime Victims From Work Discrimination", May 13, 2013

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