Working Towards Freedom from Abuse: Recognizing a 'Public Policy' Exception to Employment-at-Will for Domestic Violence Victims
New York University Annual Survey of American Law, Vol. 59, p. 121, 2003
42 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011
Date Written: 2003
This article explores one possible remedy for domestic violence victims who lose their jobs because of discrimination against those who are battered or because they miss work in order to seek legal assistance. Nearly all state courts now recognize common law wrongful discharge suits brought by employees who allege that their termination violates "public policy." Employees who are fired for a reason directly stemming from intimate partner abuse should be able to invoke the public policy exception to the employment-at-will rule, because their dismissal violates state policies supporting the rights of domestic violence victims and the public interest in combating abuse. Recognizing a public policy exception in these situations builds on the work done by battered women’s advocates challenging the notion that domestic violence is a "private" concern and addresses the obstacles faced by employees who experience domestic violence.
Keywords: domestic violence, employment, civil rights, wrongful discharge, discrimination
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