Every now and then we have a workshop or meeting with other agencies in town. Sometimes we share our knowledge with them, sometimes they teach us about their services. Yesterday, some representatives of the Advocacy Center came to talk to us. It was good to be reminded of the tremendous work the people there do.
The Advocacy Center serves all ages and genders with crisis intervention, as many people know. But it also will help with questions people may have about situations that have not escalated into crises. So if you have a co-worker who makes statements that cause you discomfort, or if you need help in answering questions about what abuse is, or any number of questions relating to sexual abuse, harassment or violence, please call the Advocacy Center at 277-5000. All calls are scrupulously confidential.
A support group is forming now for adult women who have been sexually assaulted as adults. It will be a small, personal group. If you would like more information, call Alison, one of the Center’s Counselor-Advocates, at 277-3203.
Another interesting thing that we learned from the Advocacy Center is related to employment rights for victims of domestic violence. In July, 2009, the NYS Human Rights Law was amended, providing protection from employment discrimination for victims of domestic violence. It is now unlawful to deny job advancement or hiring to those who are victims of domestic violence or to deny them leave to attend court hearings, meetings with attorneys or police, to apply for orders of protection, to seek mental or medical health appointments or for other activities related to their domestic violence victim status.
A person who leaves a job because of domestic violence may also be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. Job performance problems relating to domestic violence, such as absenteeism or tardiness, will not necessarily bar benefits.
You can get further information from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence at 518-457-5800 or www.opdv.state.ny.us
The inclusion of victims of domestic violence in the Human Rights Law means that these people are now a protected class, a very valuable advancement in the rights of all workers but particularly the blue and pink collar workers who so frequently suffer from our ‘at will employment’ labor policies.
It also raises the bar on what our society will accept as civil behavior between human beings. And that’s what the Workers’ Center is all about: ensuring that the law is honored but always, always pushing for a higher morality.