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Memorandum of Support

Legislative Memo: Provide Meaningful Access to Justice for Victims of Workplace Violence

A.4258 (Englebright)/S.4289 (Savino)

Empire Justice Center supports this legislation, which recognizes and addresses the fact that intimate partner violence does not stay within the four walls of the home.  Indeed, it frequently extends into all areas of society, including the workplace.  In such settings, the safety of the target victim is compromised, as is the safety of co-workers.  In circumstances where the perpetrator and the victim work for the same employer, these safety and security concerns are ratcheted up exponentially.  If violence and abuse remains unchecked by the employer, the workplace may be further disrupted by lost performance and productivity, perpetrator misuse of paid time and employer resources, increased absenteeism and health care costs, and the loss of valuable, trained victim employees being forced to leave their positions for safety reasons.  In the aggregate, these human and financial costs exert a tremendous economic toll on businesses throughout the state.    

While New York already provides employment-related anti-discrimination protections for victims of domestic violence, the law does not afford these victims with recourse against employers who refuse to take measures to keep their workplace safe.  By creating a private cause of action, this bill provides such necessary relief.  Further, by providing for awards of attorneys fees and punitive damages, this bill also increases the likelihood that that victims, particularly those with limited resources will have meaningful access to counsel to seek redress in the civil courts.  For these reasons, Empire Justice Center urges both houses of the legislature to pass this bill this session.

This memo was prepared by:

Amy Schwartz-Wallace

Empire Justice Center
Telesca Center for Justice
One West Main Street, Suite 200
Rochester, NY  14614 

(585) 454-4060
(585) 454-2518