Report Title:

Victims; Unemployment

Description:

Entitles domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking victims to unemployment benefits.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

109

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2003

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

RELATING TO HAWAII VICTIMS' UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ACT.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Promote the State's interest in reducing domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by enabling victims of domestic or sexual violence to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, minimize the physical and emotional injuries from domestic or sexual violence, and to reduce the devastating economic consequences of domestic or sexual violence to employers and employees; and

(2) Promote the State's interest in ensuring that victims of domestic or sexual violence can recover from and cope with the effects of such victimization and participate in the criminal and civil justice processes without fear of adverse economic consequences.

To accomplish these purposes, this Part provides unemployment insurance to those who are separated from their employment as a result of domestic or sexual violence, in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers and protects the safety of all persons in the workplace.

SECTION 2. Chapter 383, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"383- Eligibility of benefits for domestic or sexual violence victims. (a) As used in this section, the term:

"Course of conduct" means acts over any period of time of repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person or conveying verbal or written threats, including threats conveyed through electronic communications or threats implied by conduct.

"Domestic abuse" means conduct defined in section 586-1.

"Domestic or sexual violence" means domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

"Electronic communications" includes communications via telephone, mobile phone, computer, e-mail, video recorder, fax machine, telex, or pager.

"Sexual assault" means any conduct proscribed by chapter 707, part V.

"Stalking" means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specifically targeted person that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or to fear bodily injury, sexual assault, or death to the person, or to the person's spouse, parent, child, or any other person who regularly resides in the person's household, and where the conduct does cause the targeted person to have such distress or fear.

"Victim services organization" includes:

(1) A nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that provides assistance to victims of domestic or sexual violence or to advocates for such victims, including a rape crisis center;

(2) An organization carrying out a domestic violence program;

(3) An organization operating a shelter or providing counseling services;

(4) A legal services organization;

(5) An organization providing assistance through the legal process; or

(6) A domestic violence coalition or a sexual assault coalition.

(b) A person's voluntary separation from employment shall be considered for good cause under any of the following circumstances resulting from the person or a minor child of the person being a victim of domestic or sexual violence:

(1) The person has a reasonable fear of the occurrence of future domestic or sexual violence at, enroute to, or enroute from the person's place of employment;

(2) The person's efforts to seek or reside in an emergency shelter, or to temporarily or permanently relocate, in order to avoid future domestic or sexual violence against the person or the minor child of the person prevent the person from reporting to work;

(3) The person's or the person's minor child's need to obtain treatment to address the physical or psychological effects of domestic or sexual violence prevents the person from working;

(4) The person's request for leave was denied by the employer or the person believes that any available alternatives, such as taking a leave of absence, transferring jobs, or receiving an alternate work schedule, would not be sufficient to guarantee the safety of the person or the minor child of the person; or

(5) Any other circumstance in which domestic or sexual violence causes the person to reasonably believe that separation from employment is necessary for the future safety of the person or the person's minor child.

(c) A person who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence shall be deemed to be seeking work if the person has registered for work in accordance with section 383-29(a)(2) and rules that the department may adopt.

(d) To demonstrate the person's eligibility for benefits, the department may request the following evidence:

(1) A statement from the person attesting to the person or the person's minor child having been a victim of domestic or sexual violence and explaining how the domestic or sexual violence caused the person's loss of employment;

(2) A statement from an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim services organization, from the person's attorney or advocate, from a member of the clergy, or from a medical or other professional from whom the person or the person's minor child has sought assistance related to the domestic or sexual violence attesting to the domestic or sexual violence and explaining how the domestic or sexual violence was the cause of person's loss of employment; or

(3) A police record, court record, or other corroborating evidence suggesting or demonstrating that the domestic or sexual violence was the cause of person's loss of employment.

(f) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, all information provided to the department relating to sexual or domestic violence and all information regarding the person's inquiry application or receipt of unemployment benefits shall be retained in the strictest confidence by the person's former or current employer and shall not be disclosed, except to the extent that disclosure is requested or consented to by the person, ordered by a court or administrative agency, or otherwise required by applicable federal or state law."

SECTION 3. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on January l, 2004.

INTRODUCED BY:

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