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  • Abuse of Technology
  • Volume 14 | Spring 2009

legislative updates

The following are summaries of new or pending statutes, regulations or other significant policy involving domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and/or stalking that we hope will be useful to practitioners. If you know of legislation that you would like to be included in future newsletters please send them to Rebecca Henry Rebecca.Henry@americanbar.org..

Tennessee Considers Bills to Abolish Legal Use of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Tennessee HB 0322 and SB 1662 both propose to abolish the common law tort of parental alienation, prohibit parental alienation syndrome from being a factor to consider in a child custody dispute, and prohibit the use of a claim of parental alienation by a parent who has been found to be the perpetrator of child abuse to rebut the presumption that it is detrimental to the child to award custody to such parent.

New Mexico Extends Protections to Victims Who Work; Stalking Victims

Governor Bill Richardson has signed into law two domestic violence bills. The first, Promoting Financial Independence for Victims of Domestic Abuse Act (SB 68) will provide job protection for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims who need time off to attend court proceedings, or meet with an attorney. The second, Revising the Crime of Stalking (SB 166), broadens the language in the current stalking law, making it easier to prosecute stalkers, including cyber stalkers. Both laws take effect July 1st.

Washington Legislature Passes Bill To Protect Tenants Sexually Assaulted, Harassed, or Stalked By Their Landlords

Washington HB 1856 proposes to permit tenants who are victimized by their landlords to break their lease without penalty, or to change or add locks to their homes - a much-needed protection in cases where the perpetrator has a key to the survivor’s home.  To our knowledge, Washington will be the first state in the country to adopt such law, and we hope and expect that the Governor will sign the bill into law soon.

New York Governor Proposes New Protections for Victims

New York Governor David Paterson recently submitted a bill to the New York State legislature to prohibit housing and employment discrimination against domestic violence victims, strengthen penalties for violating orders of protection, and provide more assistance to child victims.

Employers would have to make reasonable accommodations for victims who need to take time off for things like counseling and court appearances, and they would have to maintain workers' confidentiality.

Courts would be required to include in the record how domestic violence was factored into child custody and visitation decisions, and court-appointed child attorneys would be required to complete at least four hours of education and training on the effects of domestic violence on children and custody.

Prosecutors would gain the option of charging an alleged abuser with a second-degree harassment violation that couldn't be sealed in court records, and be permitted to charge a batterer with first-degree contempt, a felony, for any violation of a protection order.

Oregon Considers Workplace Accommodations for Victims

Oregon’s SB 928 requires employers to make reasonable safety accommodations, such as changing work shift times, moving the location of an employee’s desk, or changing an employee’s telephone number at work to protect their safety. The bill also prohibits an employer from refusing to hire or retaliating against a victim of violence.