SJ Mercury News: Domestic Violence: A Courageous Victim Makes a Difference

June 28, 2013

By Douglas D. Lowell
Special to the Mercury

One brave woman declaring it's not fair and she's not going to take it anymore has sent ripples through the state and the nation, putting a spotlight on the plight of domestic violence survivors who, for the most part, carry their burdens in silence.

Thank you, Carie Charlesworth, for speaking up.

A second-grade teacher at a private school in San Diego and the mother of four children, Carie lost her job because school officials feared her ex-husband's menacing behavior was too much of a risk, putting students and other staff in danger. Her own kids, all students at the school, were asked to leave as well.

The outrage of it all: victims of domestic violence being punished for the behavior of their abuser. At their greatest time of need, Carie and her children were ostracized and made to feel they were the ones who had committed a crime.
This situation is not unique. A 2011 study by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center's Project SURVIVE found that nearly 40 percent of survivors in California reported either being fired or fearing termination due to domestic violence. There ought to be a law, but there isn't.

Carie's dismissal made national headlines, and this past week she testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento pleading for support of State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson's SB 400. The bill would not only prevent employers from firing victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, but it would also require companies to make efforts to protect them. SB 400 passed the committee by a 6-1 vote.