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Domestic-violence bills proposed to help victims escape abusers

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Two proposed laws that would help victims of domestic violence leave their abusers have unanimously passed the Assembly.

The first bill would allow domestic-violence victims to cancel television and telephone service contracts without paying early termination fees.

“Victims of domestic violence that are under a telecom contract with their abuser should be able to break their contract without penalty,” said Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, D-Hudson, who sponsored the bill. “These multibundle plans are iron-clad agreements by design, but to anyone in a situation that threatens their security, these agreements feel more like traps with monetary penalties.”

The legislation passed Monday also is sponsored by Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, D-Hudson.

The second bill, sponsored by several Assembly Democrats, establishes a protocol to help public employers support employees who are victims of domestic violence.

The bill would require the Civil Service Commission to develop a uniform domestic-violence policy, which all public employers would adopt, that would encourage victims of domestic violence to seek confidential assistance from the human resources department at work.

“Employers can play a vital role in helping domestic-violence victims leave a dangerous situation, but the first step is fostering environments in which employees feel comfortable and safe enough to report what’s happening,” said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, a sponsor of the bill. “A plan that makes it clear that an employee can ask for help at work and outlines what an employer can do has the potential to save lives in New Jersey.”

The bill, also advanced Monday, would require the Civil Service Commission to consult with human resources officers, law-enforcement personnel, prosecutors, social workers and others trained in counseling, crisis intervention or in the treatment of domestic-violence victims to develop the policy.

Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

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Contact:

609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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