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Cleveland Officials To Consider Leave For Domestic Violence Survivors

Cleveland City Council is considering whether to require employers to offer leave for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

At Wednesday’s Safety Committee meeting, councilmembers heard from advocates on the need for employee protections.

Almost everyone who comes to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center faces a daunting list of obstacles after an incident, Cassie Gaffney, the center's director of government affairs, told council members.

“They are working to establish appointments with victim services to get into crisis therapy, they may be engaged with law enforcement, with legal professionals, with additional medical appointments, perhaps looking to secure additional safe housing for themselves or for their families,” Gaffney said.

So council is setting up a working group to craft new rules. The new working group will meet every three weeks, according to Safety Committee Chair Matt Zone.

“It really speaks to the soul of a city, that we value survivors, that they matter, when too often they feel like nobody has their back and they feel irrelevant,” Zone said.

Zone avoided discussing possible policies during the committee meeting, asking councilmembers to wait until the working group starts meeting to discuss specifics.

One potential model city is Philadelphia, where employers are required to offer sick leave that can be used to obtain domestic violence-related services. Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and New Jersey all have similar policies.

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