October 27, 2021

Volume XI, Number 300

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New Missouri Law Requires Employers to Provide Leave to Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence

Missouri employers with at least 20 employees will soon be obligated to provide leave to victims of domestic or sexual violence under the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA), signed into law by Governor Mike Parson on August 28, 2021. VESSA also requires employers to provide employees notice of the new law no later than October 27, 2021.

VESSA requires any public or private employer with at least 20 employees to provide unpaid leave and safety accommodations if an employee, or a family member or household member of an employee, is a victim of domestic violence or sexual violence.

Domestic violence is defined as “abuse or stalking committed by a family or household member.” Sexual violence is defined as a “sexual assault” or “trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.”

A family or household member is defined as a “spouse, parent, son, daughter, other person related by blood or by present or prior marriage, other person who shares a relationship through a son or daughter, and persons jointly residing in the same household.”

Key Provisions

VESSA provides:

  • Leave to any employee who seeks medical attention, victim services, psychological or other counseling, safety planning, or legal assistance for themselves, a family or household member, if they are victims of domestic or sexual violence.

  • One week’s leave per year for employees of companies with between 20 and 49 employees.

  • Two weeks’ leave per year for employees of companies with 50 or more employees.

  • Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced work schedule. However, unpaid leave under VESSA will not be provided if the employee has already used all leave allowed under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

  • Employees must give 48 hours’ notice of their intent to take leave.

  • In the event of an unscheduled absence, the employer cannot take any action against the employee if the employee provides certification of their absence within a reasonable time.

  • An employer may require employees to provide certification in addition to 48 hours’ notice. Employees may satisfy the certification requirement with a sworn statement from the employee plus certain other documentation, such as a police report or court record, detailed in VESSA.

  • Upon returning from leave, an employee must be returned to the same or equivalent employment position.

  • An employee must not lose accrued benefits while on leave.

  • Employers must maintain health coverage for employees while they are on leave under VESSA.

  • Employers may recover the health plan premium paid by the employer to maintain coverage for the employee or the employee’s family or household member if the employee does not return to work for reasons unrelated to domestic or sexual violence.

Safety Accommodations

Reasonable safety accommodations are defined as:

an adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement, including a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, leave, a changed telephone number or seating assignment, installation of a lock, implementation of a safety procedure, or assistance in documenting domestic violence that occurs at the workplace or in work-related settings, in response to actual or threatened domestic violence.

Notice

Importantly, employers must notify employees of their rights under VESSA by October 27, 2021. Employers must also post a notice summarizing the requirements of VESSA. After October 27, 2021, newly hired employees must receive notice of VESSA rights at the time their employment begins.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 246
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About this Author

Karen R. Glickstein Litigation Attorney Jackson Lewis Kansas City, MO
Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Karen R. Glickstein is a Principal and the Office Litigation Manager of the Overland Park, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri offices of Jackson Lewis P.C. For more than 25 years she has represented employers in discrimination, harassment and retaliation litigation ranging from single plaintiff cases to defense of EEOC class action matters. She also has significant experience defending clients in whistle-blowing and restrictive covenant matters, as well as advising clients on a wide variety of human resource and employment law matters. 

Ms. Glickstein's clients...

913-251-3729
Jessica L. Liss, Jackson Lewis, supervisor training lawyer, sexual harassment prevention attorney
Office Managing Principal

Jessica L. Liss is Office Managing Principal of the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Ms. Liss has been based in St. Louis her entire career and has extensive experience litigating all forms of employment and civil rights matters.

As a trial lawyer, Ms. Liss has been representing employers at the trial and appellate level in state and federal courts. She has appeared before administrative judges and numerous state and federal agencies. Ms. Liss has conducted many jury trials through verdict, and...

314-827-3950
Nina Sykora Associate Attorney St. Louis Employment Litigation Jackson Lewis PC
Associate

Nina C. Sykora is an associate in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has extensive experience in all stages of civil litigation. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling. Nina’s practice includes representing clients in administrative, state, and federal cases.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Nina served as an assistant public defender where she was the lead attorney on numerous state criminal cases ranging from misdemeanors to...

314-827-3948
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