Reps. Chippendale, Nardolillo sponsor bill to expedite unemployment benefits for domestic abuse victims
STATE HOUSE -- In an effort to streamline the process of applying for unemployment benefits by those who left work because of domestic abuse, Rep. Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry) has introduced legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Robert A. Nardolillo III (R-Dist. 28, Coventry), that would make things easier for victims of domestic violence.
The bill (2016-H 7693) would provide an accelerated process for collecting unemployment benefits for persons claiming benefits after voluntarily leaving work for circumstances resulting from domestic abuse.
“The victims of domestic violence often feel trapped in an abusive situation for many reasons — and financial insecurity is often one of those reasons,” said Representative Chippendale. “This bill will allow a victim of domestic violence to immediately leave a situation where they feel their safety is in imminent danger and get as far away as possible. And if that means they need to leave their job, then they will receive their unemployment benefits immediately as opposed to having to wait seven days for the processing of their claim.”
Many victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking must leave work in order to protect themselves, their families and their coworkers. A growing group of local and national advocates has encouraged making victims eligible for unemployment insurance benefits when they are forced to leave their jobs because of their fear for their safety and that of their families. These initiatives are part of a larger effort in states across the country to reform the unemployment insurance system to better meet the changing needs of today’s workers.
“Domestic abuse has ramifications far beyond the physical and emotional toll it takes on family members,” said Representative Nardolillo. “Oftentimes, it can lead to loss of income simply because the victims can no longer do the job for various reasons. It is imperative that we, as a state, recognize those difficulties and make collecting unemployment easier for those victims, even when they leave their jobs voluntarily.”
According to the National Employment Law project, 96 percent of employed domestic violence victims in one survey stated that the domestic violence in their lives interfered with her ability to work. A woman may be harassed by threatening phone calls at work or may need to miss days of work because of injuries or attempts to seek legal remedies for the abuse.
The legislation, which is also cosponsored by Representatives Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton), Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Robert B. Jacquard (D-Dist. 17, Cranston), has been referred to the House Labor Committee.
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