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Victims of sexual assault should not be discriminated at their workplace. Below are resources for victims in regards to employment rights.

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.

Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)

Sexual harassment, which includes sexual assault, is unlawful workplace behavior. The IHRA defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

The IHRA also requires employers to conduct annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employers. Claims for workplace sexual harassment may be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).

IHRA Employment Discrimination Law

IDHR Employment Charge Information

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program

FAQ for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Other Information

  • Women Employed - Women Employed is a not-for-profit organization that works to expand the educational and employment rights of women. Their website offers information and resources regarding women's rights in the workplace and information about sexual harassment.

Find a crisis center near you.

ICASA member rape crisis centers are located across Illinois and provide services to approximately 98% of the state's population.

Contact with an ICASA center is completely confidential.

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA)

100 North 16th Street, Springfield, IL 62703 USA

Phone: +1 217-753-4117 • Fax: (217) 753-8229

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