Victim's Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). Allstate Insurance Company Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law July 27, 2010. Employment Rights for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. Presented by: Steve Ihm Kristen Lay Allstate Insurance Company
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Allstate Insurance Company
Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
July 27, 2010
Allstate Insurance Company
Based on Presentation Prepared by: Wendy Pollack
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
Disclaimer: These materials are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials represent do not represent the views or position of Allstate Insurance Company.
Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Have Employment Rights
Federal Laws That May Protect Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking
1 State Law Guide Employment Rights for Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence, August 2009, www.legalmomentum.com
(Previously, this statute only applied to employers with 50 or more employees. Recent amendment extended coverage).
An employee of a covered employer may take VESSA leave:
Eligible employees may take:
APPLY, APPLY, APPLY!!
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
312-263-3830 ext. 238
Carol was employed by Rob’s Supermarket, a local grocery store. Carol worked in the produce department. Carol was a hard worker and a good employee. She lived with her husband and two children. Carol sought an order of protection against her husband because he was and continues to be physically abusive. Carol explained to her supervisor, Mike, that she needed to be in court to obtain an order and protection and asked for a day off. Carol was able to take 1 day off work to attend court.
She obtained an order of protection and planned to move out of her home to a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Carol needed time off work to pack, move her belongings, and get settled at the shelter. The day after Carol obtained the order of protection, she showed it to Mike, explained her situation, and asked for 3 days off so that she could pack and move with her children to a shelter. Mike refused to keep a copy of the order of protection, and denied her request to take 3 days off. He told her that if the company knew about her order of protection, she would be seen as a “problem employee.” However, he did permit her to take off 1 day.
Carol used to be able to walk to work from her home. However, the shelter is located 20 miles from Rob’s Supermarket. Carol had to rely on taxis or take the bus to get to work. Sundays were extremely problematic because it was difficult to get a taxi on Sundays, especially during inclement weather, and no public transportation was available. As a result, Carol was late a few times to work on Sundays. She requested a schedule change so that she would not have to work on Sundays due to transportation difficulties in light of her new living situation. Her request was denied. Carol was written up for being late. Mike continued to schedule her to work on Sundays.
Everything at work for Carol changed after she showed Mike the order of protection. He began to ask her out on dates—to dinner, movies, even a hotel. He repeatedly made sexual advances towards her. He even tried to hug and kiss her. He told her that if she wanted things to go well, she would have to go out with him. He specifically threatened to cut her hours if she did not go out with him. Mike also constantly laughed, made fun of, and teased Carol about her problems with her husband.
Carol asked management at the supermarket for a transfer to another department to get away from Mike. She also complained of his sexual advances. However, she was not allowed to transfer to another department. A few weeks later, Carol was approached by a manager in the parking lot on her way into work and told not to clock in and not to come into work because she was being fired. Carol has been unable to find a job since then.
Jane worked at the Smith Glass Factory. Jane worked in the office as a data entry clerk. She began dating John who also worked at Smith Glass Factory, in the production plant. Their romance got off to a great start and things were going very well. However, a few months later, Jane got bored with John and started seeing Jim, who also worked at Smith Glass Factory, on the side. One day, Jim sent Jane flowers for her birthday. Word got around and John found out that Jane had been cheating on him. John became very upset and angry, stormed into the office and started yelling at Jane. He picked up the flowers and threw them against the wall, shattering the glass vase. He would have punched Jane but co-workers stepped in and stopped him.
John apologized to Jane and told company representatives that he would never behave that way again. However, that evening, John followed Jane home to confront her about her relationship with Jim. Another altercation ensued at Jane’s house on her driveway. The neighbors saw what happened and called the police. The police came and John was arrested. The next morning, Jane went to work and she received 10 voicemails on her office phone, all from John, including some threatening messages. Jane immediately informed her manager about what happened at her home the night before and about the 10 messages John had left. John never showed up for work that day. Jane was shaken up and scared. She wanted to take some time off to clear her head. The company gave her the day off. She was also afraid for her safety at work.
Diane was a victim of domestic violence. Her ex-husband abused her and her children and tried to kill her on several occasions over the course of 12 years. Diane divorced her husband, got an order of protection and relocated with her family. Diane worked at an assisted living facility, Center for Senior Citizens.
Because of the abuse that they endured, Diane and her children obtained counseling twice a week. Diane was scheduled to work from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., which was too late for her to make it to counseling. She requested a schedule change and her employer changed her schedule from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. so she could leave work at 2:00 p.m., pick up her children, go home and feed them, and take them with her to a center where she and the children received counseling.
Subsequently, Diane requested leave under VESSA. In writing to her employer, she stated that the reason for VESSA leave was to obtain counseling sessions. Her employer requested that she provide proof that she was getting counseling within one week. Diane provided a copy of the police report when her ex-husband attempted to find her at her former job about a year ago. She also provided the order of protection which was issued about one and a half years ago. Two weeks went by and the company still had not received any documents indicating that she had appointments for counseling. The company did not approve her VESSA leave request. Diane stopped going to work because she needed time off for counseling. Because Diane had not shown up for work, she was written up for “no call/no show.” Eventually, she was terminated for job abandonment.