KMOV: Bill introduced to give unpaid leave to victims of domestic and sexual violence

By Alexis Zotos, Reporter

ST LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A new bill introduced at the St. Louis Board of Alderman meeting would require employers to grant employees two weeks unpaid leave if they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Alderwoman Megan-Ellyia Green filed the bill that mirrors a bill filed earlier this month on the state level that would allow the employee to take time off to take care of things like going to court or seeking counseling.

A survivor of domestic assault who was brutally attacked by her boyfriend three years ago spoke about her experience and gave her thoughts about the bill.

“At one point I really thought I would lose my life that night but was able to escape,” she explained.

She was able to escape and get a restraining order, but her abuser still came after her.

“It was recommended that I leave and flee my home with my children because [police] felt I wasn’t safe,” she said.

She was a teacher at a school in St. Louis County and had to tell her employer she could not come to work.

“It was not safe for me to return, he did show up at my work and did continue to follow me,” she said.

Thankfully, her superintendent was understanding, and gave her six weeks off of unpaid leave. However, not all employers would do the same.

“The emotional and mental effects on women after they’ve already been beat down to be then told, oh by the way there’s no support for you, see you later, it’s a travesty, it really is.”

Green’s bill said an employee shall not be punished for taking leave to take time to seek medical attention, obtain counseling, participate in temporary or permanent relocating or seek legal assistance.

“I think I had ten court dates in the first three weeks, I was still battered a bruised and had to find a way to get to the court house and I did it because it was important,” the survivor explained.

That is why she is speaking out. She traveled to Jefferson City to advocate for an almost identical bill filed by Missouri State Senator Gina Walsh and Senator Jill Schupp earlier this month. A similar bill has been introduced several times over the last few years but has not passed.

Opponents have said it opened employers up to lawsuits.

This survivor said she hopes St. Louis City has better luck passing the bill than the state legislature has because she said she would not be here today had she not received the same support.

“It was unpaid leave but I was grateful that I wasn’t going to be put on the street with my three children, that I had an income to return to and to rebuild again.

The next step will be that it will be assigned to a committee.

The state senate bill has been referred to the Seniors, Families and Children Committee.

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