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  • Acts
  • 2001
  • Chapter 69 AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE ELIGIBILITY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 151A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after paragraph (g) the following paragraph:-

(g½) "Domestic violence", abuse committed against an employee or the employee's dependent child by: (1) a current or former spouse of the employee; (2) a person with whom the employee shares a child in common; (3) a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the employee; (4) a person who is related by blood or marriage; or (5) a person with whom the employee has or had a dating or engagement relationship.

For the purposes of this chapter, abuse shall include (1) attempting to cause or causing physical harm; (2) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; (3) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress or engaging or threatening to engage in sexual activity with a dependent child; (4) engaging in mental abuse, which includes threats, intimidation or acts designed to induce terror; (5) depriving another of medical care, housing, food or other necessities of life; and (6) restraining the liberty of another.

For the purposes of this chapter, an individual may demonstrate the existence of domestic violence by providing 1 of the following: (1) a restraining order or other documentation of equitable relief issued by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) a police record documenting the abuse; (3) documentation that the perpetrator of the abuse has been convicted of 1 or more of the offenses enumerated in chapter 265 where the victim was a family or household member; (4) medical documentation of the abuse; (5) a statement provided by a counselor, social worker, health worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker, legal advocate or other professional who has assisted the individual in addressing the effects of the abuse on the individual or the individual's family; or (6) a sworn statement from the individual attesting to the abuse. All evidence of domestic violence experienced by an individual, including the individual's statement and corroborating evidence, shall not be disclosed by the department unless consent for disclosure is given by the individual.

SECTION 2. Section 14 of said chapter 151A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "voluntary", in line 106, the following words:- , or was due to domestic violence.

SECTION 3. Section 25 of said chapter 151A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "employment", in line 83, the following words:- , is 1 which reasonably accommodates the individual's need to address the physical, psychological and legal effects of domestic violence.

SECTION 4. Subsection (e) of said section 25 of said chapter 151A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the first paragraph the following paragraph:-

No disqualification shall be imposed if the individual establishes to the satisfaction of the commissioner that the reason for the individual's discharge was due to circumstances resulting from domestic violence, including the individual's need to address the physical, psychological and legal effects of domestic violence.

SECTION 5. Said subsection (e) of said section 25 of said chapter 151A, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the fifth paragraph the following paragraph:-

An individual shall not be disqualified from receiving benefits under this clause if the individual establishes to the satisfaction of the commissioner that the reason for the individual's leaving work was due to domestic violence, including:

(1) the individual's reasonable fear of future domestic violence at or on route to or from the individual's place of employment;

(2) the individual's need to relocate to another geographic area in order to avoid future domestic violence;

(3) the individual's need to address the physical, psychological and legal effects of domestic violence;

(4) the individual's need to leave employment as a condition of receiving services or shelter from an agency which provides support services or shelter to victims of domestic violence;

(5) any other respect in which domestic violence causes the individual to reasonably believe that termination of employment is necessary for the future safety of the individual or the individual's family.

SECTION 6. Section 30 of said chapter 151A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "claim", in line 30, the following words:-but the commissioner shall specify by regulation the circumstances in which the 15 week application period shall be tolled because of the individual's need to address the physical, psychological and legal effects of domestic violence.

SECTION 7. The commissioner of employment and training shall implement a training curriculum approved by the governor's commission on domestic violence and the human resources division. All senior management personnel of the division of employment and training shall be trained in this curriculum not later than 60 days from the effective date of this act and the commissioner shall develop an ongoing plan for training employees of the department who interact with claimants in the nature and dynamics of domestic violence, so that employment separations stemming from domestic violence are reliably screened and adjudicated, and so that victims of domestic violence are able to take advantage of the full range of job services provided by the department. The training shall not be construed as providing training on domestic violence.

SECTION 8. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the office of child care services, in implementing section 239 of chapter 43 of the acts of 1997, shall ensure that individuals who were receiving subsidized day care while working, and who subsequently become unemployed and are eligible for unemployment compensation benefits under chapter 151A of the General Laws, retain their day care subsidy while they await placement in, and the commencement of, a training or education program for which they have submitted an application under section 30 of said chapter 151A. Nothing in this section shall alter the eligibility policies of the office of child care services concerning subsidized day care for individuals participating in an education or training program or engaging in job search activities.

Approved August 11, 2001.