Changes to state’s domestic violence laws could expand employers role

SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass (WWLP)–Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.  22News looks at how employers are now being asked to show more empathy towards these victims.

Kate VanCourt-French was happy to welcome Sherry Morton to her staff at VanCourt Instruments in Northampton, but that it all came to an end when she was brutally murdered.

In 1993, Morton and her 18 month old son were killed by the boy’s father.

Vancourt-French spoke to employers at a domestic violence awareness conference on Wednesday, about the numerous challenges she and her staff faced following Morton’s murder.

“I underestimated how deeply this was going to affect all of the employees in so many different ways,” VanCourt-French said.

Leaders of the organization Employers Against Domestic Violence say that one quarter of U.S. women will be the victim of some kind of domestic violence at least once in their life.  Research also shows that nearly 80 percent of batterers make threats at a victim’s workplace.

Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan told 22News says he’s encouraged by a bill that looks to expand current domestic violence laws in the state.

“Employers are, under the House bill that was just passed are going to be required to give unpaid medical leave to make sure that employees get the medical care and be able to attend court and any other services they need as a victim of domestic violence,” Sullivan said.

That bill would also up the penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders.  The passed the House on Wednesday and is now in the hands of the Senate.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence call one of the following:

High Risk Team for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office:  (413) 774-3186 ext: 5903

Batterer’s Intervention: (888)-636-9050

Safe Passage: (888)-345-5282

SAFEPLAN: (413)-772-0806 or (413)-586-4545

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