According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 66,000 reported incidents of domestic violence occurred in Illinois during 2014 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). Shocking as that number may seem, it probably does not even scratch the surface. In fact, many cases go unreported. The reasons for this are many, but fear over job security is a common concern. Thankfully, Illinois does offer certain job protections to domestic violence victims.
Victim Economic Security and Safety Act
In the state of Illinois, employers with 15 or more employees are required to comply with the Victim Economic Security and Safety Act, or VESSA. It states that employees cannot be terminated, threatened, demoted, or otherwise negatively acted against for taking unpaid leave to address domestic violence issues. This can include taking time off to move, attend court, heal from injuries, visit the doctor, file charges, or otherwise address domestic-violence specific needs.
However, victims should note that the amount of time allotted for this is different for small and large businesses. Employers with at least 15 employees but less than 50 are only required to permit eight weeks of unpaid leave. Employers with at least 50 employees must permit up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Further, employers are allowed to request documentation to support the reason for the leave, and victims should attempt to give their employer at least 48 hours advance notice, whenever practical.
Reasonable Accommodations to Protect Safety
VESSA also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees who are at risk for or have been threatened with domestic violence. Examples might include changing of a telephone number, installation of a lock, or the implementation of a specific safety procedure. Should domestic violence still occur within the workplace, employers are also supposed to assist the employee with adequate documentation (i.e. filing a police report).
Despite the protections that may be offered at their work, some employees simply cannot return to their jobs without putting their safety at risk. Yet leaving their job can place the at risk for poverty and may, in some cases, cause them to return to their abuser. In an effort to prevent such issues, Illinois offers unemployment insurance to victims. To be eligible, they must list domestic violence as their reason for leaving work and then contact the Department of Employment Security with appropriate documentation (i.e. restraining order, medical documentation, etc.).
Our DuPage County Domestic Violence Lawyers Can Help
If you need assistance with obtaining an order of protection, or in figuring out how to navigate a divorce or child-related case involving domestic violence, contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today. Understanding to the difficult situation you are facing, our compassionate DuPage County domestic violence lawyers have more than 150 years of combined experience. We will fight for you. Call 630-932-9100 for a free consultation.
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