Survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence, and stalking often face the threat of job loss and economic insecurity. Many abusers seek to control their partners by interfering with their ability to work, including preventing them from going to work, harassing them at work, limiting access to cash or transportation, and sabotaging child care arrangements. And employees affected by domestic or sexual violence may need to take sudden action - with very little advance notice - to seek medical treatment, legal help, or other assistance.

The ACLU of Illinois is working to inform employees and employers of their rights and obligations under the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA), and to ensure that survivors of domestic, sexual, and gender violence are not further harmed when employers fail to implement adequate policies and training to comply with the law.

In recognition of the needs of survivors, Illinois enacted VESSA in 2003 to provide leave and reasonable accommodations to employees who are survivors of domestic, sexual, and gender violence, as well as employees who have family or household members who are survivors.

VESSA requires employers to:

  • Provide unpaid leave to employees to seek medical and legal help, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance when they are experiencing domestic or sexual violence;
  • Provide reasonable accommodations to employees, including adjustments to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement;
  • Ensure their policies and practices do not interfere with or discriminate against employees who seek to exercise their rights under VESSA; and
  • Maintain strict confidentiality to protect employees.

Unfortunately, not all employees or employers are aware of these dedicated protections. If you have been affected by domestic, sexual, or gender violence and faced a denial of workplace leave or accommodations, or other discrimination or retaliation at work because of it, please share your story with us. 

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