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Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)

In August 2003, VESSA became law in Illinois. VESSA protects the workplace rights of employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence as well as the rights of employees who have family or household members who are victims of domestic or sexual violence. VESSA is intended to help employees keep their jobs and stay safe. VESSA specifically provides:

  • Entitlement to unpaid, job-guaranteed leave. VESSA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work during any 12-month period to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Employment sustainability. VESSA prohibits employers from refusing to hire, discharging, harassing or otherwise discriminating against applicants and employees with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on the applicants` or employees` status as a victim of domestic violence, dating violence sexual assault or stalking.
  • Enforcement. VESSA is administered and enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor. A complaint must be filed within three years after the alleged violation occurred. An employee may recover damages including lost wages and employment benefits, as well as attorney fees, and other relief such as reinstatement and promotion.

Vessa Manual

Produced by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act, 820 ILCS 180/1, et seq. (Legal Statute)


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