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EEOC says domestic violence discrimination at work may be illegal

Domestic violence continues to affect women and men throughout the entire country, including folks in San Diego. Victims of domestic violence may suffer from depression when they feel like they will never be able to get out of an abusive relationship, and they may even fear for their lives and the safety of their children.

Domestic violence victims often have a lot of worries on their minds, but some things victims should not have to worry about include being fired from their jobs or being discriminated against in the workplace simply because they are victims of domestic violence.

Folks might assume that employers are willing to accommodate those who are victims of domestic violence, but some employers are worried that employing victims could actually put other workers in danger.

Because of past incidents, some employers might discriminate against current or potential employees who are victims of abuse by choosing to fire or not hire victims in an effort to protect other workers from violence. Sadly, domestic violence has been brought into the workplace. There have been incidents when estranged husbands or boyfriends have gone to their wives' workplaces and have harmed or killed their wives and other workers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however, is attempting to help those who have been discriminated against in the workplace because of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault. Although there are no laws that explicitly prohibit domestic violence discrimination in the workplace, some cases of discrimination could fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or even under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC recently pointed out.

If employers do feel that it is necessary to terminate an employee or not hire a job applicant because he or she is a victim of abuse, employers may have to prove how the employee would threaten workplace safety. In certain circumstances, the employer may be right to take such action.

Source: Inside Counsel, "EEOC warns employers of discrimination related to domestic violence," Mary Swanton, Dec. 21, 2012