NCJW, Schupp advance long-sought domestic violence survivor legislation


Missouri State Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur

Eric Berger, Associate Editor

The Missouri House passed a bill Thursday containing a provision requiring employers to provide reasonable workplace safety accommodations and allow unpaid leave to survivors of domestic or sexual violence.

The Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) was an amendment to a bill and was introduced by State Sen. Jill Schupp, D- Creve Coeur, who is Jewish, and lobbied for by National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis.

If signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, the measure would require businesses with between 20 and 50 employees to provide one week of unpaid leave to survivors of domestic or sexual violence, and employers with more than 50 employees to provide two weeks of unpaid leave.

Employees could receive leave to attend court hearings or obtain orders of protection, among other reasons.

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“This legislation protects the economic well-being of survivors,” Schupp stated in an NCJW news release.  “When domestic violence has forced a survivor to take measures to overcome a dangerous situation, unpaid leave is a way to support the survivor, any children, and to also be mindful of the needs of the person’s employer.”

Amy Kuo Hammerman, NCJW state policy advocacy chair, stated that the passage was heartwarming because her mother-in-law, Marlene Hammerman, was NCJW president when a similar bill was introduced eight years ago.

“I am thrilled about the passage of VESSA because domestic violence survivors will no longer be forced to choose between their economic and personal safety,” Amy Kuo Hammerman stated. “The hard work of NCJWSTL, our coalition partners, and legislative champions has finally paid off and survivors can breathe a sigh of relief.”