Thursday, February 03, 2005

Massachusetts Considers DV Workplace Legislation

State Representative Joseph R. Driscoll (D-Braintree), has announced his full support of a legislative package introduced by Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham), Sen. Pamela Resor (D-Acton) and Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) that would strengthen state laws against criminal stalking and make it easier for victims to relocate and take time off from work. Specifically, the measure would extend the ability to file a restraining order to people whose relationship with the stalker does not meet certain level. Currently, only petitioners with a "prior and substantive" relationship are eligible for the restriction. Additional provisions of the legislative package would protect stalking victims from housing discrimination by requiring landlords to release victims from rental agreements and prohibit landlords from evicting tenants on the grounds that they were the victims of the crimes.

The package would also protect employees, working for companies that employ more than fifty individuals, who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking from being penalized in the workplace for taking time off to address issues related to being a victim of such crimes.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, one million women and 371,000 men are stalked in the United States each year, and most victims know their stalkers. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, arraignments on stalking-related offenses rose 10 percent between 1999 and 2003, from 277 to 304 according to Jane Doe, Inc., a women's rights group. (Source: Braintree Forum)

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