Stalking victims face problems in the workplace

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Victims of stalkers who share safety concerns with employers often face recrimination, advocates say. (Source: CBS 5 News) Victims of stalkers who share safety concerns with employers often face recrimination, advocates say. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Victims of stalkers who share safety concerns with employers often face recrimination, including losing their jobs, according to victim advocates who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates.

"I have personally had numerous people refer cases to me where the employee was terminated because they disclosed that they were a victim of a crime," said Pam Paziotopolous, an attorney who helps corporations develop plans for dealing with employees facing stalking or domestic violence dangers.

"What the workplace needs to do is create a culture where more people feel comfortable coming forward with this type of information," added Paziotopolous.

It is illegal to fire an employee because they are the victim of a stalker, but experts say victims are often brushed aside at work, or pressured into resigning.

"The situation itself poses a threat to these organizations and it's simply easier to get rid of the employee. Therefore, the problem goes away," said a stalking victim who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates on condition of anonymity.

She said things changed for her at work, and for the worse, the day she told her boss that a man who raped her when she was a child had reached out to her via social media.

"Unfortunately, this employer is now just as much a perpetrator as the people who raped me," she said.

Attorneys who are familiar with stalking victim rights say that while employers cannot legally fire someone for being a crime victim, the accommodations that victims request must be reasonable.

"Employers don't have to make their workplaces armed fortresses, but they do have to provide safe workplaces. And they do have to provide reasonable accommodations to people when they are threatened by stalkers," said Dan Barr, who is an attorney who has represented a number of television news reporters and anchors who were stalked.

In Arizona, employers must allow victims time to contact police and/or secure an order of protection. In California, the law goes even further, naming stalking victims as a "protected class." That means employers must abide by a more strict set of laws that protect stalking victims.

There are no statistics available about how often stalking victims lose their jobs, but one in nine women and one in 19 men are the victims of a stalker at some point in their lifetime. Victim advocates believe it is a highly underreported crime.

Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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