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Employers Take Note: New Employee Rights for Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence in Missouri

September 2, 2021

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In Missouri, the new Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (“VESSA”) allows an employee to request from his/her employer: 1) unpaid leave (for an individual who works for a business employing 20-49 employees—up to one workweek; for an individual who works for a business employing 50 or more employees—up to two workweeks), and/or 2) reasonable safety accommodations. Note that VESSA does not cover employers with 19 or fewer employees. VESSA became effective on August 28, 2021.

Among other things, to be entitled to leave and/or accommodations under VESSA, the employee or his/her family or household member must have experienced domestic or sexual violence. When an employee makes a request under VESSA, an employer is permitted to ask the employee for a statement to help the employer assess the employee’s eligibility.

In addition, the employee’s request for leave and/or accommodations must be related to the domestic or sexual violence. Specifically, an employee may take unpaid leave from work to address such violence by:

  • Seeking medical attention for, or recovering from, physical or psychological injuries caused by such violence.
  • Obtaining services from a victim services organization.
  • Obtaining psychological or other counseling.
  • Participating in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking

FMLA-Related Updates from the DOL: New Opinion Letters and (Kind of) New Forms

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently released two new opinion letters relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), which provides eligible employees the right to unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.  The DOL also issued “new” forms relating to FMLA leave, which should be used on a going-forward basis.

The full opinion letters are available here and here, and the new forms are available here.

Organ Donors

In the first opinion letter, the DOL addressed the question of whether leave resulting from organ donation, including post-operative treatment, could qualify for FMLA leave.  The brief answer:  Yes, so long as the need for leave meets the FMLA’s definition of serious health condition.  An employee’s organ donation can qualify as a serious health condition when it involves “inpatient care” or “continuing treatment.” See 29 C.F.R. §§ 825.114, .115. And, since an organ donation would qualify as a serious health condition whenever it results in an overnight stay in a hospital – which is commonly involved in such donation – it is likely that the FMLA would apply.

Importantly, the reason for the organ donation – e.g., the fact that the organ donor is

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