Introduced by Senator Miller of Chittenden District, Senator Ayer of Addison District, Senator Dunne of Windsor District, Senator Flanagan of Chittenden District, Senator Kittell of Franklin District, Senator Lyons of Chittenden District and Senator MacDonald of Orange District
Subject: Labor; unemployment compensation; domestic violence
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to provide economic and personal security for survivors of domestic violence by providing them with unemployment compensation if protecting their health and safety necessitates leaving employment.
AN ACT RELATING TO UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION FOR SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
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:
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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 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, and before leaving
that employment, the individual advised the employing unit about the health
condition, and sought and did not refuse to accept other work offered by that
employer suitable to 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 left employment because the individual:
(i) reasonably fears that the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking will continue at or en route to or from the place of employment; or
(ii) 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; or
(iii) 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; and
(iv) prior to leaving the employment, pursued reasonable alternatives, including seeking a protection order, relocating to a secure place, or seeking reasonable accommodation from the employer, such as a transfer or different assignment; and
(v) provides 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 a shelter worker, 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, 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 VIOLENCE TRAINING; DEPARTMENT OF
EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
(a) The department of employment and training in cooperation with the Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 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 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.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street