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H.477

Introduced by   Representatives Pugh of S. Burlington, Ancel of Calais, French of Randolph, Grad of Moretown, Haas of Rochester, Heath of Westford, Kainen of Hartford, Keenan of St. Albans City, Kennedy of Chelsea, Larson of Burlington, Leriche of Hardwick, Nuovo of Middlebury, Sweaney of Windsor and Trombley of Grand Isle

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Labor; unemployment compensation; domestic violence; sexual assault; stalking

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to provide economic and personal security for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by providing them with unemployment compensation benefits when they are forced to leave employment because of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

AN ACT RELATING TO ECONOMIC SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, AND STALKING

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  21 V.S.A § 1344(a)(3) is amended to read:

(a)  An individual shall be disqualified for benefits:

* * *

(3)  For not more than six weeks nor less than one week immediately following the filing of a claim for benefits (in addition to the waiting period) as may be determined by the commissioner according to the circumstances in each case, if the commissioner finds that he or she the individual has left the employ of his or her last employing unit, without good cause attributable to such that employing unit, because of a:

(A)  A health condition, as certified by a health care provider, as defined in section subdivision 9432(8) of Title 18, which that precludes the discharge of duties inherent in such that employment, provided that before leaving that employment, the individual advised the employing unit about the limitations imposed by the health condition, and sought and did not refuse to accept other work offered by that employer suitable to the limitations imposed by the individual’s health condition.

(B)  Circumstances directly resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, as defined in 15 V.S.A. § 1151, provided the individual:

(i)  Left employment for one of the following reasons:

(I)   The individual reasonably fears that the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking will continue at or en route to or from the place of employment.

(II)  The individual intends to relocate in order to avoid future domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking of the individual, a member of the individual’s family, or a co-worker of the individual.

(III)  The individual reasonably believes that leaving the employment is necessary for the safety of the individual, a member of the individual’s family, or a co‑worker of the individual.

(ii)  Complied with all the following prior to leaving employment:

(I)  Pursued reasonable alternatives to leaving the employment, including seeking a protection order, relocating to a secure place, or seeking reasonable accommodation from the employer, such as a transfer or different assignment, provided that a failure to pursue reasonable alternatives may be excused if the individual establishes that pursuit of alternatives would have been futile or would not have adequately addressed the specific circumstances that led to the individual’s decision to separate from employment.

(II)  Provided the department with satisfactory documentation of the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  The documentation may include a sworn statement from the individual attesting to the abuse or law enforcement or court records or other documentation from an attorney or legal advisor, member of the clergy, or health care provider, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9432(8).  Information relating to the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including the claimant’s statement and corroborating evidence, provided to the department shall not be disclosed by the department unless the claimant has signed a consent to disclose form.  In the event the department is legally required to release this information without consent by the claimant, the department shall notify the claimant at the time the notice or request for release of information is received by the department.

Sec. 2.  DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE TRAINING;

             DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING

(a)  The department of employment and training in cooperation with the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence shall design and implement training for appropriate department employees who interact with claimants for unemployment compensation benefits regarding the nature and dynamics of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in order to assure reliable screening and support and to assure that these claimants are informed of the full range of job services and support services provided by the department and other governmental agencies.

(b)  The training curriculum shall be designed and implemented no later than 60 days after the effective date of this act.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us