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Alameda County Family Justice Center

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DISCLAIMER: This information is meant to provide general information about domestic violence and employment. Please consult with an attorney or other legal agency for more details about any legal questions you have about your work situation.

About Employment and Domestic Violence

Abusive relationships may affect a survivor's employment in different ways. An abuser may harass his partner at work and possibly jeopardize he employment. This may lead to a poor employment history for the survivor and ruin future job opportunities. On the other hand, having a way of earning income may provide a domestic violence survivor with options of leaving an abusive relationship.

Some of the ways an abuser interferes with a domestic violence survivor's employment include not letting the survivor go to work, physically abusing her so that tshe is not able to go to work on a particular day and calling her at work (Swanberg & Logan, 2005) [1]. In a study conducted in Maine, domestic violence survivors reported being unable to concentrate at work due to the abuse and being late to work because the abuser started an argument before the survivor was to begin work. Survivors also indicated that the abuser would come onto the worksite to harass the survivor (Ridley, Rioux, Lim, Mason, Houghton, Luppi, & Melody, 2005) [2].

While an abuser can negatively impact a survivor's employment, having a job can have some positive benefits for the survivor. Having employment can help boost a survivor's self-esteem as well as her ability to be employed in other jobs. Employment can also offer a survivor a chance to interact with other people and decrease her isolation. Being employed allows a survivor to have an income, and with planning and time may help a survivor leave an abusive relationship http://www.peaceatwork.org/DV_Employment_Wheel.pdf.

Taking into consideration the impact of domestic violence on employment, some laws and policies have been created to help protect survivors. In California, if a domestic violence survivor leaves her job in order to keep herself or her family safe, she may be eligible for unemployment insurance because she left for a "good cause" http://www.las-elc.org/DV_UI_if_you_must_quit.html. In addition, in workplaces that employ 25 or more employees, a domestic violence survivor has the right to take time off in order to get domestic violence counseling or medical treatment related to an injury caused by domestic violence http://www.las-elc.org/00057924.pdf.

Resources
For Further Information

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[1] Swanberg, J. E. and Logan, T. K. (2005). Domestic Violence and Employment: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Vol. 10 No. 1 p6.

[2] Ridley, E., Rioux, J., Lim PhD, Kim C., Mason, D., Houghton, K. F., Luppi JD, F., & Melody, T. (2005). Domestic Violence Survivors at Work: How Perpetrators Impact Employment.