Domestic Violence, The Work Place and Catholic Values

At what point does someone else’s problem become our own problem? We all say “Well That’s What We Would Do” but doing something and saying you will do something are two entirely different beasts.

But when you are holding yourself (or claiming that you are holding yourself) to higher values than the rest of us mere mortals then you have to back up words with actions.

Carie Charlesworth was fired because of her ex-husband’s actions.

Carie received a notice of termination after he  showed up to the Holy Trinity School where she worked as a teacher. He broke his restraining order in order to do so. It doesn’t end there they also sent her kids home too after her abuser came to the school’s parking lot creating a lockdown.

She was placed on indefinite leave the next day along with her children who studied at the school. Three months later she was told that the school “simply cannot allow” her to return to work.

It didn’t matter that Charlesworth’s ex-husband is currently behind bars for his crimes, as the school has “no way of knowing how long or short a time he will actually serve.” A 2011 study shows that “Nearly 40 percent of survivors in California reported being fired or feared termination because of domestic violence.” This is why victims of domestic violence don’t come forward, because they’re afraid of the way people are going to see them, view them, perceive them, treat them.

The major issues here are two-fold.

The victim’s issues are well known, the way the business sees it is that there is no “coverage” or protection for businesses that become collateral during the defence of a victim. The Catholic School doesn’t see it as helping a woman keep a job but hiring a woman who comes with “the baggage of an abusive wanker who threatens everyone around her including their innocent children”.

Now we have to weigh up whether it is fair to the children of the school to be put through the risk of dealing with this abusive man or supporting the victim.

Like I said. I understand why they did it. However. I will point out that the Catholic school claims that we must be good irrespective of what is “monetarily important” or even at risk to ourselves. Therefore even if it adhered to the legal rules, it’s actions were completely unfair and against the high moral code it must hold itself to.

There has to be a better way to deal with cases such as this. As of now it is in a business’s interest to terminate such an employee unless that business has an owner willing to risk “losses” in exchange for doing what’s right. Remember, saying you will do something is different from really doing it.

I think we should make it illegal to terminate anyone for being a domestic violence victim solely because of fear of their abuser but also provide carte blanche support for any business losses that may occur through the actions of such a business. I think that victims of abuse should be able to work in a safe environment and others too and should their safety be threatened at a working environment by the abuser, a harsher sentence must be meted out and this must be explicitly mentioned to dissuade possessors of restraininng orders from breaking it.

But this requires political will to push through changes that reduce the rights of business owners which is unlikely to happen.

But remember, when you hold yourself above all men as a moral example for others… then you cannot turn your back (no matter how legal it is to do so) on those who need your help and those who are part of your organisation.

Stand up for what you know is right. What sort of example has this school set for it’s pupils?


  1. steve oberski says

    These would be the same catholic “values” that caused a catholic hospital to argue that a fetus is not a person in a wrongful death lawsuit.

    And the same values that prompted a catholic bishop to excommunicate a nun for approving an abortion to save the life of a patient in her hospital.

    And the same values that resulted in the excommunication of the mother and doctor of a 9 year old rape victim for agreeing to and performing an abortion, but imposed no sanctions against the girl’s stepfather who raped her.

    And the same values that resulted in Beatriz being denied a life saving abortion but finally allowed to have a face saving “caesarean section” only after being put at risk by being forced to carry a brain dead fetus at the behest of evil old men.

    What a bunch of disgusting, hypocritical fuckers.

    And hopefully the students at the school and those who witness the other ongoing depravities committed by this criminal organization will see the catholic church for the force of evil that it is and leave it as soon as possible.

  2. says

    @Alverant: Good to see!
    @steve obserski:

    It is not obvious that Charlesworth’s situation is due to religion. It may simply be part of the pervasive pattern of victim-blaming that Avicenna described. This particular case doesn’t ad to the crimes of the Church as much as it illustrates a problem that extends far beyond it. We need to end the victim-blaming.

    I think we should make it illegal to terminate anyone for being a domestic violence victim solely because of fear of their abuser.

    The Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center, the group that did the study you reported, is currently co-sponsoring California state legislation to make it specifically illegal to fire someone because they are a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking; and to require employers to make reasonable accommodations for the victim’s safety.
    Similar laws are already in force in several other US states: Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon. Some details about the proposed California law are available here:

  3. smrnda says

    Catholic logic. A pregnant woman must risk death even if the fetus will be dead on arrival, with doctors only intervening in the very last instant. A Catholic school is entitled to refuse to take any risks that come with employing a woman with a violent ex.

    By the same logic that allows an institution to fire a VICTIM of domestic violence, they could argue against hiring any sort of person who might likely be the victim of a hate crime on the grounds that it puts them at risk. “Sorry, we can’t hire anybody who looks middle eastern. We don’t want anyone shooting up the place.” Talk about punishing the victim.

  4. says

    Am I understanding that even under current law, if the guy came back and harmed someone else, there’s no way the school could be held liable on a negligence theory?

  5. says

    On the contrary. If “the Christian God” existed then we would have to accept rape and slavery as moral choices. After all. The Abrahamic God requires, nay DEMANDS his followers keep slaves and blithely orders the rape of virgins.

    It is humans that have decided what laws exist and what don’t. It is humans who punish humans and who “permit” things.

  6. says

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