Friday, May 26, 2006

Domestic Violence Costs Northern Ireland Economy £90M* Every Year

Domestic violence costs the Northern Ireland economy £90m* every year due to staff taking time off work, Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson has said. Mr. Hanson was speaking at the launch of government guidelines for employers to assist employees who have suffered domestic violence and abuse. The guidelines will be circulated to over 4,000 employers across Northern Ireland. "They are in a unique position to offer support to victims and it is very much in their interest to do so," he said.

"Living with physical violence or psychological abuse can result in deterioration in an employee's performance, poor timekeeping and increased absenteeism within the work place." "Every year in Norther Ireland around £90m is lost to the economy because of time-off work due to domestic violence." The guidelines, published on May 22, are part of the government's "Tackling Violence at Home Strategy" which was launched in October 2005.

*$168,083,000 USD - conversion done at CAEPV on 5/24/06

Friday, May 19, 2006

NEW YORK CITY ADS STRIKE BACK AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The images are startling and that's the point. A woman, her left cheek bruised, has the following message dripping out of her nose like a stream of blood: "38% of battered women will be victimized again within six months." Another shows a young girl with two massive welts on her back. "Last year, 1 in 12 high school students was beaten by a person they were dating," is printed boldly inside one of the bruises.

New York City unveiled a new public service advertising campaign designed to encourage victims of domestic violence to get help. "Last year, domestic violence was responsible for nearly one out of every eight homicides in our city," Mayor Bloomberg said on May 18. "What's just as disturbing is that almost none of these victims ever called the city's domestic violence hotline," Bloomberg said at a City Hall press conference with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Yolanda Jimenez, commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, along with playwright and activist Eve Ensler.

The ads, which urge victims or loved ones to call 311, will appear in English and Spanish on subways, buses and other sites around the city. Postcard-sized copies will be distributed at nail salons. Ensler also helped put together a two-week program - funded with private dollars - to raise awareness of violence against women and girls.

"Until The Violence Stops: NYC," which will run from June 12-27, will feature musical and theatrical performances, and celebrities will include Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, Kathy Bates and Diane Lane. One of the theatrical events will benefit the city's Family Justice Center in Brooklyn.

According to the city, police officers handle 600 domestic violence-related calls each day. Most of the victims killed in domestic violence incidents had no order of protection and had not previously contacted police.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lawsuit Filed Against NYC Employer For Discrimination Against Domestic Violence Victim

New York, NY - In late April, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project filed EEOC charges on behalf of a domestic violence victim who was discriminated and retaliated against by her employer after she revealed that she was the victim of domestic abuse and took measures to assert her legal rights as a victim. According to Caroline Bettinger-L√≥pez of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, this EEOC filing followed on the heals of a lawsuit that they filed last month on behalf of this employee, alleging violations of the 2001 and 2003 amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibit employment discrimination against domestic violence victims and require employers to provide victims with “reasonable accommodations.” According to the ACLU, the client was terminated by her employer after she revealed that she was a victim of domestic violence and requested time off to attend to medical, legal, and other safety needs, and a safety transfer to another worksite. Each time the client asserted her rights as a victim of domestic violence and attempted to protect herself from continued abuse, her employer retaliated against her by systematically increasing threats of discipline and actual discipline of her, and ultimately terminating her. In the lawsuit, the ACLU requests reinstatement, a safety transfer, back pay, monetary compensation for emotional distress, and other appropriate relief.

Caroline says, “We hope that our case will build off the success of Reynolds v. Fraser, the first case brought under these new provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law. That case was brought as a “special” Article 78 proceeding challenging the decision of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) to terminate a victim of domestic violence after she revealed her victim status. In a lengthy consideration of the public policy reasons behind the amended New York City legislation, the judge in Reynolds found that “[t]he ability to hold on to a job is one of a victim’s most valuable weapons in the war for survival, since gainful employment is the key to independence from the batterer.” The judge then vacated DOC’s decision to terminate Ms. Reynolds’ employment and ordered reinstatement and back pay.”

Illinois Police May Be Sued For Not Intervening In Domestic Violence Cases

Springfield, IL - Local police agencies' immunity from lawsuits does not apply when they fail to intervene in domestic violence cases, the state Supreme Court of Illinois ruled on April 20, 2006. Justices decreed that the estate of a Chicago woman may sue police for allegedly ignoring her April 2002 call for help when her estranged husband entered her home with a gun. Witnesses saw two police officers outside the residence in their car, but they drove away without going inside. Ronyale White was shot to death minutes later.

In a separate opinion, however, the court upheld the decades-old tort immunity law, which bars lawsuits against local governments to prevent a flood of litigation that would overburden taxpayers. The court ruled that the estate of Doris Hays may not sue authorities in Rock Island and Henry counties after a witness reported Hays drove off a highway into a ditch but no one investigated. Hays' body was found three days later near her car at the accident scene.

In the Chicago case, the court decided that the domestic violence law trumped the tort immunity act. The unanimous decision by Justice Thomas Fitzgerald points out that the domestic violence statute grants immunity against local governments "unless the act is a result of willful or wanton misconduct."

There is no such provision in the 41-year-old tort immunity act, which the court said applies to the Hays case. Justice Mary Ann McMorrow believes there should be. As in past cases, she dissented in the Hays matter, arguing that if the Legislature intended to protect local governments from lawsuits for willful and wanton misconduct, the law should say so.

"Blanket immunity should not be afforded to acts performed by local governmental entities or government officials in bad faith, especially where the provision of life-and-death police protection services are at issue," McMorrow wrote. The cases are Moore v. Green and DeSmet v. Rock Island. On the Net: http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/Search.htm