Abstract: The Impact of State Workplace Protections on Socioeconomic Outcomes of IPV Survivors (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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The Impact of State Workplace Protections on Socioeconomic Outcomes of IPV Survivors

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Katherine Marçal, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
Kathryn Showalter, PhD, Assistant professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background and Purposes: Intimate partner violence (IPV) can have devastating socioeconomic costs for survivors. Abuse frequently spills into the public arena, including the workplace, threatening survivors’ abilities to maintain employment and afford basic needs. Missed days at work as a result of injuries, court appearances, or coercive abusive behaviors can reduce opportunities for advancement or even lead to job loss. Lack of financial independence may prevent survivors from leaving violent relationships, or hinder their ability to obtain safe living arrangements in the wake of a violent relationship. IPV is a leading cause of housing insecurity for women, in part due to financial hardship exacerbated by abusive interference with work. A number of potential policy solutions exist to support survivors’ socioeconomic stability, but little research examines their impact on work and housing outcomes. The present study investigates whether three state-level workplace protections for IPV survivors – 1) right to reasonable accommodations; 2) confidentiality; and 3) protection from discharge for abuse-related work disruptions – are associated with increased employment and housing stability in a sample of mothers who have experienced IPV.

Methods: The present study relied on two sources of data for the present study. First, women were selected from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a large study that surveyed mothers of children born 1998-2000 in 20 large American cities. The analytic sample was limited to mothers who reported having experienced IPV by the Year 9 interview. Three hierarchal logistic models that nested women (N = 1,296) within states (N = 37) tested associations of living in a state with each of the protective policies with employment status and housing hardship.

Results: Findings showed that all three policies were associated with increased likelihood of employment, whereas none of the three policies related with reduced risk for housing hardship, controlling for prior employment status and a number of demographic factors. Maternal depressed was associated with lower likelihood of employment and increased risk for housing hardship across all models.

Implications and Conclusions: State policies aiming to support survivors of IPV in the workplace were thus found to have important impacts on work outcomes, but benefits did not extend to security in living arrangements. Our study shows that investment from policymakers by enacting state legislation, prevents instability from happening. Specifically, mandating that employee incidents of IPV be kept private upon disclosure and only repeated on a need-to-know basis, helps survivors move past incidents of violence and keep their jobs. Confidentiality of serious incidents should be a basic right of all employees and we encourage state policymakers to expand and adopt protections.