Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bill to allow DV victims to collect unemployment

Oregon Rep. Paul Hovey (D-Eugene) has introduced a bill that would designate safety concerns due to domestic violence as a "good cause" reason for quitting, allowing them to collect unemployment benefits.

SALEM — Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) introduced a bill Thursday that would help victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. The bill, HB 2662, would expand current laws to allow such victims to collect unemployment benefits if they leave work to protect their safety or the safety of their families.

Presently, the law provides that unemployment benefits are available only to people who must quit for “good cause.” Holvey’s bill would provide a legal framework to ensure that only victims can decide what steps to take to protect themselves from physical harm.

“Though threats of violence are not always specific to the workplace, they may be so insidious that a victim’s only safe alternative is to quit work and physically relocate,” Holvey said. “These victims are already under terrible emotional stress. We should not force them to choose between employment and safety.”

Without the legal protections offered by HB 2662, victims are less likely to leave work to seek safety, Holvey added. The availability of benefits enables victims to take the steps they need to protect themselves and their families without risking homelessness or bankruptcy, he said.

Violence between intimate partners is pervasive in Oregon, Holvey said. The Eugene Democrat referred to the findings of a current study conducted by in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Human Services. The study concluded that one in 10 women between the ages of 20 and 55 in Oregon had been physically or sexually assaulted by their current or most recent partner in the five years preceding the study.

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