The XX Factor

Next for Gov. Jerry Brown: Helping Victims of Domestic Violence Keep Their Jobs

Trying to leave your abusive husband? Gov. Jerry Brown has your back.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s hard for a progressive not to love Gov. Jerry Brown right now. He must get up in the morning, pour himself a cup of coffee, scratch his pet of choice behind the ears and say to himself, “Whose life am I going to improve today?” Will it be undocumented residents, who now have stronger rights to work and move about freely without fear of deportation? Will it be children with nontraditional families, who have more protection against being put in foster care? Will it be low-income women seeking abortion, who are more likely to get access via a nurse practitioner at their local clinic? Or will it be victims of domestic violence, who, thanks to Brown’s progressive law signing marathon, will now have an easier time keeping their jobs, even if their abusers are working really hard to get them fired. 

On Friday, Gov. Brown signed a law banning workplace discrimination against victims of domestic violence and requiring employers to take reasonable precautions to help keep them safe, such as changing desk locations and work phone numbers. This legislation is necessary, because some aggrieved abusers show up at their victims’ workplaces, threatening or even committing violence.

While firing the victim solves the problem for the employer, the threat of being fired ends up threatening stalking victims at work in two ways. One, if a victim can’t keep her job, that increases the chance that she’ll end up financially dependent on the abuser and unable to escape him. Two, if an abuser knows that his harassment increases the chances of getting his victim fired, that gives him every incentive to harass her in the workplace. So while this legislation may create hassles for employers in the short term, in the long run it will discourage abusers from trying to use a victim’s job as leverage against her, and make the workplace safer for all.

So kudos to Gov. Brown for helping domestic violence victims feel more secure in their employment, and for helping to make it easier for them to escape their bad situations. What’s next on the docket, Jerry?