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Rahm Pushes Protections For City Employees Victimized By Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 30, 2017 10:39PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

A new ordinance put forth by Mayor Rahm Emanuel would provide city employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault with up to one month of paid leave, the mayor and Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) announced on Monday.

City workers who qualify for a state law, the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA), would receive the paid time off. VESSA mandates that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Illinois be provided with three months of unpaid leave.

"Domestic violence and sexual assault have no place in our society and it is critical that survivors know they are not alone," Emanuel said in a press release. "We recognize the challenges survivors face and believe this ordinance is a significant step in expanding our support and reaffirming the City’s continued commitment to providing accessible resources for those affected."

The ordinance also tasks the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources to develop policy and kickstart training that provides employees with greater resources to know what support they are eligible to receive. The training would also target employers to better their ability to recognize red flags for sexual abuse and domestic violence, so that the onus isn't strictly burdened on the victim.

That amped-up training is crucial, especially in terms of making sure the resources are actually utilized: according to the Sun-Times, just three city workers were able to use the state's three month (unpaid) leave protection in the three years that the law has been in effect.

“Our goal is to ensure that City employees affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse know that they have their employer’s support through accessible information, resources and employee assistance programs," O’Shea said in a release.

The ordinance proposal coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.