Ladies, want job security? Just scream 'abuse!'
By Carey Roberts
As lawmakers tediously debate the economic stimulus plan, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California is pushing for change that we can really believe in. It's called the Security and Financial Empowerment Act – SAFE for short – a bill that she and Rep. Ted Poe of Texas introduced in the Congress last week.
The concept is so simple, it's amazing no one dreamed this up before.
Here's how it works: All you have to do is trot down to the local courthouse and convince the judge your husband or boyfriend did something that caused "substantial emotional distress or psychological trauma" – those are the words from the SAFE bill.
The bill never defines those words. So exactly what is emotional distress or trauma?
Remember during the Super Bowl when your heartthrob let loose a terrifying groan after Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner threw that boneheaded first-half interception? Or when he issued that blood-curdling whoop when the Steelers grabbed the lead in the final 35 seconds?
As we all know, watching professional football multiplies men's proclivity to domestic violence, and any strange utterance signifies he may be teetering on the brink. Of course you were frightened and traumatized, weren't you? Congratulations, you are now a victim of battering!
Don't want to be bothered with a trip to the courthouse? Then all you have to do is sign a sworn statement. Perjury is never prosecuted in these cases, so nothing to worry about here.
So you're a certified victim of domestic violence, you're coming unglued about the economic crisis, and you don't want to lose your job. Now what? Simple. Just tell the boss you were manhandled by your partner.
Now settle back and get ready for all the bennies! The list is pretty long, so you might want to take notes.
Most of all, you have lifelong job security -- because the bill prohibits the employer from ever firing you! Maybe you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Section 303 says: "An employer shall not…discharge…the individual [who is] a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking."
You don't even have to prove the domestic violence caused your job performance to lag. Just being a certified victim will do.
That's only for starters.
If passed, the bill will entitle you to take 30 days of emergency leave every year. That will allow you to obtain counseling, seek legal assistance, move to a new house, or, as explained by the bill, take "other actions to increase the safety of the employee." Obviously a little vacation jaunt to Florida can do wonders to protect you from your abuser.
And what if you simply don't want to work? Again, Rep. Roybal-Allard offers hope! Because Title II of the bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to grant you a new entitlement to unemployment compensation.
Most lawmakers won't read every word of the proposed bill, so they probably won't notice that Rep. Roybal-Allard has pulled the wool over their eyes. Because near the end of the bill, she cleverly switches from "domestic violence," which implies physical harm, to "abuse," which of course can mean anything. (You've heard about our national epidemic of plant abuse, right?)
So Roybal-Allard suitably calls Title IV of her bill the "Victims of Abuse Insurance Protection Act."
That part of the bill prohibits the insurance company from canceling the health insurance for any victim of abuse. But the guarantee doesn't just apply to persons who have already suffered abuse, the promise also extends to any person who "is, has been, or may be the subject of abuse." Of course, "may be the subject of abuse" qualifies just about every living soul in the entire U.S. of A.
So there you have it, President Obama's stealth plan for universal health coverage, neatly tucked away in Title IV of the Security and Financial Empowerment Act.
To top off the deal, any aggrieved person can sue the insurance company in state or federal court. She (or he) can be awarded compensation and punitive damages, based on the flimsiest "preponderance of evidence" standard. It doesn't get any better than that.
So c'mon girls, what are we waiting for? As they like to say in south Texas, let's git while the gitting is good!
Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
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