LEGAL MEMO OF THE MONTH!
UPDATE: Unemployment Benefits for Victims of Domestic or Family Violence
Summary: Indiana legislation provides that separation from employment when a worker has been the victim of domestic or family violence is not a disqualification for unemployment compensation.
• Since 2003 Hoosier victims of violence have been able to receive unemployment compensation if they voluntarily leave employment or were discharged due to circumstances directly caused by domestic or family violence (as defined in IC 31-9-2-42).
• Indiana Code 22-4-15-1 specifically disallows disqualification from benefits due to circumstances directly caused by domestic or family violence.
• WHAT is new: The definition of domestic or family violence has broadened significantly since the original passing of this law:
“Domestic or family violence”
Sec. 42. “Domestic or family violence” means, except for an act of self defense, the occurrence of one (1) or more of the following acts committed by a family or household member:
(1) Attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or causing physical harm to another family or household member without legal justification.
(2) Placing a family or household member in fear of physical harm without legal justification.
(3) Causing a family or household member to involuntarily engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.
(4) Beating (as described in IC 35-46-3-0.5(2)), torturing (as described in IC 35-46-3-0.5(5)), mutilating (as described in IC 35-46-3-0.5(3)), or killing a vertebrate animal without justification with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member.
For purposes of IC 22-4-15-1 and IC 34-26-5, domestic or family violence also includes stalking (as defined in IC 35-45-10-1) or a sex offense under IC 35-42-4, whether or not the stalking or sex offense is committed by a family or household member.
• What this means: a survivor as defined above cannot be denied unemployment benefits if he or she was terminated or had to leave a job under the circumstances above.
• Verification of the abuse must be provided. To verify that domestic or family violence has occurred, an individual who applies for benefits under this section shall provide one (1) of the following:
(1) A verifying report of a law enforcement agency (IC 5-2-5-1).
(2) A protection order issued under IC 34-26-5.
(3) A foreign protection order (IC 34-6-2-48.5).
(4) An affidavit from a domestic violence direct service provider verifying that the individual has received services from the provider.
• An affidavit as listed in #4 above is available upon request and will be available on the ICADV website in the future.
For questions or more information, contact Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, JD, Legal Director, ICADV.