Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation Announces Signing of Bill Providing Unemployment Insurance Benefits to Victims of Domestic Violence


32 states have passed similar legislation

BALTIMORE, MD (April 11, 2012) – Yesterday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill (SB 291) proposed by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation that provides unemployment benefits for individuals who must leave a job to escape domestic violence. With this new law, which takes effect October 1, Maryland joins 32 other states offering these benefits.

“This new law will provide immediate assistance in the case of domestic violence, and will help to reduce violence in the workplace,” said Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez. “Victims of domestic violence will now be able to support themselves and their families while looking for new employment in a safer location.”

“With this new law, we are helping to ensure that no Marylander will be forced to choose between personal safety and financial security,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. “I want to thank the General Assembly, as well as Secretary Sanchez and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, for their work to help victims get back on their feet so they can lead healthy and productive lives without fearing for their own safety.”

“The Department is very thankful for the support we received from Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown on this legislative initiative,” said Julie Ellen Squire, Assistant Secretary for the Division of Unemployment Insurance. “Most states’ unemployment insurance laws address the issue of domestic violence, and we saw this as an area of need in Maryland.”

In a situation where leaving a job is directly attributable to domestic violence, an individual would be determined to have left work for good cause. Claimants must submit documentation of domestic violence by submitting a temporary or permanent protective order, other court order corroborating the domestic violence, or a police report. Employers would not be individually charged for any benefits paid under the new provision.

“Victims who need to relocate in order to be safe are often faced with the impossible choice between their physical safety and a much-needed paycheck. This law alleviates that problem and enables victims to leave their jobs when necessary without giving up the very financial resources that are so often critical to their ability to be safe. We are so pleased at the passage of this bill and thank DLLR for their support,” said Sandi Timmins, Executive Director of House of Ruth Maryland.

“This legislation will serve as a lifeline for those who must completely re-organize their lives because of domestic violence. Many times, abusers attempt to isolate and control their victims by creating havoc at their workplace with harassing phone calls, e-mail, and other communications,” said Cynthia Lifson of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. “Sometimes, the only way for a person dealing with domestic violence is to re-locate, including finding employment elsewhere. Access to unemployment insurance benefits may be a crucial component to enable those dealing with domestic violence to regroup and find work free from fear and intimidation caused by an abuser.”

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation protects and empowers Marylanders by safeguarding workers, protecting consumers, providing a safety net and cultivating a thriving workforce that can meet the demands of Maryland’s dynamic economy. Follow DLLR on Twitter (@MD_DLLR) and Facebook.