Did you have to leave your job because of domestic violence?

Developed by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence


Unemployment insurance (UI) benefits may be available to you if you can show you had to leave your job because you, your spouse, or your dependent child were victims of domestic violence, as defined by this particular statute. The domestic violence is only one factor in deciding if you qualify for these benefits.

The UI Customer Service Representative (CSR) is the person who makes the initial decision about whether you qualify for UI benefits. You should talk to the CSR at the regional call center in your area if you have specific questions about UI. It is possible that you may not qualify for reasons unrelated to the abuse.

Here are some questions and answers that may help you decide if you should tell the CSR about the abuse and its impact on your job.

What does abuse mean under this law?
Abuse is any one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Causing or attempting to cause physical harm;
  • Placing you in fear of imminent physical harm;
  • Causing you to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threats or duress, or threatening to do so;
  • Mentally abusing you, which includes threats, intimidation and acts designed to induce terror;
  • Depriving you of health care, housing, food or other necessities of life; or
  • Restraining your liberty.

Does the abuse have to have been against me?
No. You may also qualify if your spouse or your dependent child was abused.

Do I have to be married to my abuser?
No. The person who abused you, your spouse, or your dependent child could have been a current or former spouse, a person with whom you have a child in common, a person you live with or have lived with in the past, a person related by blood or marriage, or a person with whom you have or had a dating or engagement relationship.

I was afraid to return to my job. Would I qualify for benefits?
In order to qualify, you must have left your job due to the domestic violence. This could include any of the following circumstances:

  • You had a reasonable fear of future domestic violence while you were at work or going to or from your work place
  • You had to relocate to another geographic area in order to avoid more domestic violence
  • You had to leave work because you needed to address the physical, psychological, and legal impacts of domestic violence, such as being hospitalized, having to attend counseling, support groups, or legal hearings and trials that made you unable to continue to work
  • You had to leave work in order to stay in a shelter for victims of domestic violence
  • You reasonably believed that you needed to leave work in order to avoid other situations that may lead to domestic violence and to provide for your safety and that of your family

Do I have to prove I was abused? How?
You will be asked to prove the existence of domestic violence. You may prove the existence of domestic violence by providing any one of the following:

  • A copy of a restraining order, protection from abuse order, or other court order granting you some sort of protective relief; or
  • A police report documenting the abuse; or
  • A court record showing that your abuser has been convicted of certain crimes where the victim was a family or household member; or
  • A doctor's report or some other medical documentation of the abuse; or
  • A statement from your counselor, social worker, health care provider, clergy, shelter worker, legal advocate, domestic violence or sexual assault advocate or another professional who has assisted you in dealing with the effects of the abuse on you or your family; or
  • Your own sworn statement telling about the abuse.

Will this information be confidential?
The person taking your application is required to keep this evidence of domestic violence confidential. This includes your statements and any additional supporting evidence you provide. You may give consent for this information to be released but it should not be released without your consent. If keeping your address and other personal information confidential is critical to your safety, you should tell the CSR how important this confidentiality is to you.

I am afraid to accept a new job due to my abuser's behavior? Can I still receive UI?
While you are receiving UI due to domestic violence, you are allowed to refuse a new position if it does not reasonably accommodate your physical, psychological, safety, and/or legal needs in addressing the abuse. You may have to show why you refused a certain job, but you have the right to consider your safety and other issues when you are trying to decide whether to take a new job.

I think I might qualify under this definition of abuse. What should I do next?
Only the CSR will be able to determine if you qualify. However, if you believe you might qualify for UI once you have read this pamphlet, you should review this information with your sexual assault or domestic violence advocate. That person may be able to help you gather the evidence you will need when you apply. Then, you should contact the regional call center to apply, or you can file a claim at KansasJobLink

What should I do if the CSR does not believe that I was abused?
You will receive a determination notice that will explain whether you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. If you are not eligible, the notice will explain your right to file an appeal and provide instructions for doing so.

Remember:

You are not alone.
There are many women who have been abused; many of them have lost their jobs because of the abuse. If you are concerned about your safety and want to talk confidentially with someone who knows about sexual and domestic violence, call your local program (see "Kansas Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline Numbers") or the Kansas Crisis Line at 1-888-END ABUSE (1-888-363-2283).

This brochure is intended to provide you with a summary of the 2003 amendments to K.S.A. 44-706. If you have specific questions about the law or about your eligibility for UI benefits, you should contact an attorney or talk further with the CSR.

This project was supported in part by Grant No. 1996-wr-nx-0019 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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