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updated: 12/18/2013 5:07 PM

City ordered to rehire domestic violence victim

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Associated Press

The city of Chicago has been ordered to rehire a budget analyst fired for violating the city's residency requirement after an abusive boyfriend forced her from her Chicago home.

The Illinois Department of Labor concluded Valerie Tolson, 56, was given "lip service" in her request for a residency waiver and that the city had "no clear and established policy" at the time for accommodating victims of domestic violence, which is required by state law.

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The Chicago Sun-Times reports the labor department also ordered the city to pay Tolson $234,000 in back pay.

Tolson said her former boyfriend forcibly removed her and her teenage son in 2009 from the Chicago apartment they shared. She later moved to a home in suburban Riverdale that she owned and got an order of protection against the boyfriend.

Tolson said the boyfriend retaliated by threatening to tell the city's inspector general that she was living outside of Chicago, in violation of the residency requirement.

An investigation was launched, and in September 2011 Chicago's Office of the Inspector General recommended Tolson be fired. The office accused Tolson of not living in Chicago, not reporting her change of address and falsifying a change of address notification. Tolson was fired the following month.

City officials noted the incident occurred prior to Mayor Rahm Emanuel taking office. They also said the city established a clear process last year for employees who are victims of domestic violence to ask for help and to appeal if a request is denied.

Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for the city's Office of Budget and Management, also said "employee safety is a priority for Mayor Emanuel, particularly for domestic violence victims."

Quinn said the mayor has made that commitment clear by investing in the city's first new domestic violence shelter in a decade and appointing a new domestic violence task force, among other efforts.

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