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  • Writer's pictureTravis A. Musich, PsyD

Financial Security from Violence: Legal Support for Workers Facing Intimate Partner Violence


Legal Protections for Workers Facing Intimate Partner Violence
Survivors of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence have the right to request work accommodations from their employers to ensure they are safe maintain economic security.

Domestic abuse and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) often impacts a survivor's ability to work or hold a job. Unfortunately, workers don't know that their employer must offer accommodations to protect workers and their financial stability. As a psychotherapy practice dedicated to supporting individuals facing challenging life circumstances, we understand the urgency of addressing intimate partner violence and its threat to survivor's financial stability, safety, and wellbeing. Workers who find themselves in abusive relationships not only face physical and emotional dangers but also the fear of losing their jobs and financial security.


Employment Protections for Workers Experiencing Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence

Fortunately, both Illinois state laws and federal legislation provide crucial protections, resources, and support systems to help ensure the safety and well-being of employees facing intimate partner violence. In this blog post, we will delve into the specific legal safeguards available in Illinois, empowering individuals with knowledge and guidance during these difficult times.


Illinois Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA):

The Illinois VESSA is a state law designed to protect employees who are survivors of domestic or sexual violence or have a family or household member who is a victim. Under this law, employees have the right to request reasonable workplace accommodations to ensure their safety. Such accommodations may include changes in work schedules (including up to 12-weeks leave), transfers to different locations, or the implementation of safety procedures. Your employer must provide you with these accommodations within 48 hours of your request after you have notified them that you are experiencing domestic violence. You may also receive the accommodations after the fact, such as in cases of an unexpected absence from work, if you provide certification that you were facing immediate threats to your safety. For more information about the protections and rights to accommodations under VESSA, see the Department of Labor website link that provides helpful information, forms, and resources. See the VESSA factsheet for a helpful summary of the protections for IL workers.


Confidentiality and Non-Discrimination:

Illinois state laws, as well as federal legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who are survivors of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. Confidentiality regarding an employee's situation is crucial, and employers are legally obligated to maintain the privacy of personal information related to an employee's status as a survivor of violence.

 

Resources for Workers Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence or Domestic Violence


Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs):

Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (e.g. ComPsych) which are confidential resources providing counseling services, legal advice, and referrals to employees facing personal challenges. EAPs will often connect you with a number of free sessions for the issue presented. If you are calling an EAP regarding intimate partner violence, you will often receive referrals for free counseling sessions, free legal advice, and additional resources. Think of the EAP as a confidential social worker or case worker that is paid for by your company. EAPs can play a vital role in connecting employees to the support they need, including counseling services to help them cope with the emotional and psychological impact of intimate partner violence. EAPs can also help you secure accommodations from your employer during this difficult time. Ask your employer or human resources if you have access to EAP services as an employee. You do not need to disclose the reason you are asking for this information.


Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline:

The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline operates 24/7, serving as a valuable resource to individuals facing intimate partner violence. By calling 1-877-863-6338, individuals can access immediate support, information, and referrals. The hotline provides guidance on safety planning, legal options, and local support services available to employees.


Legal Protections:

Employees experiencing intimate partner violence can seek legal protection through orders of protection, commonly known as restraining orders. Under Illinois law, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act provides a framework for obtaining these protective orders, prohibiting the abuser from contacting or approaching the survivor. Local domestic violence shelters, legal aid organizations, and community-based support services can provide guidance on obtaining orders of protection and navigating the legal process.


Counseling and Support Services:

Illinois is home to numerous organizations and shelters specializing in providing counseling and support services to survivors of intimate partner violence. These services often include individual counseling, support groups, safety planning, and assistance in rebuilding lives after leaving an abusive relationship. Local domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers are excellent starting points for accessing these critical resources. See Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) and Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) to meet with an advocate or counselor available online or in-person in your area.


Federal and State Victim Compensation Programs:

Federal and state victim compensation programs provide financial assistance to survivors of violent crimes, including domestic violence. Illinois offers the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which can help cover expenses such as medical care, counseling, relocation, and lost wages. By reaching out to victim assistance programs or legal aid organizations, individuals can explore options for accessing this much-needed support.

 

You have a right to be safe from violence. Period.

Survivors of intimate partner violence experience significant threats to their physical safety and economic stability, but the state of Illinois and federal legislation have put in place vital protections and resources to support workers who fear the loss of their job and financial resources. By leveraging the legal protections, resources, and support systems available, survivors can take steps towards reclaiming their safety, well-being, and financial stability. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, remember that help is available. Reach out to the organizations and hotlines for survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence below for special guidance and support on your path to healing and empowerment.


If you are interested in working with a therapist who can support you through this process, please know that you can schedule a Free Initial Consultation phone call with a specialty therapist at Person-Centered Psychological Services using the link below.

If you have any questions, you can also reach our office via phone at (773)231-7715 or email us at intake@pcpsychservices.com. We offer sliding-scale fee options if you need additional support during this difficult time. Please remember you are not alone.

 

List of Agencies, Programs, and Resources:


Illinois Resources

Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-877-863-6338

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA): https://www.icasa.org/

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV): www.ilcadv.org

What are different types of abuse?: https://www.ilcadv.org/types-of-abuse/

Illinois Legal Aid Online: www.illinoislegalaid.org

Illinois Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA):

Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network: www.batteredwomensnetwork.org


National Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233



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