Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX-02) and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34) introduced the Job Protection for Survivors Act, the Insurance Non-Discrimination for
Survivors Act, and the Unemployment Insurance for Survivors Act. The measures would give survivors of domestic violence greater economic stability and create a federal standard for employers to address the effects of domestic violence on employees.
"Victims of domestic violence have already suffered enough abuse at the hands of their abusers, said Poe. They should not be victimized by their employers as well. These bills institute policies and provisions that allow domestic violence victims to seek the help they need to end the abuse without fear of losing their jobs or fear of being denied employment. These are essential pieces of legislation that need to be enacted swiftly for the sake of all domestic violence victims and survivors."
Under these bills, victims of domestic violence who are forced to leave a job because of the abuse would be eligible for unemployment benefits. They would also be able to take unpaid leave from work without the fear of being fired to address immediate needs such as obtaining legal assistance, medical care or to find a safe place to live.
While physical and psychological consequences are the most obvious results of domestic violence, victims also suffer economically, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard said. One of the key reasons victims stay with or return to their abusers is because they are financially dependent upon them. In order to break this cycle of dependence and abuse, I have introduced these bills to provide victims of domestic
violence with greater employment protections and increased economic stability.
The three bills are based on the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act, originally introduced by Roybal-Allard, to promote financial security for survivors of domestic violence. These three bills incorporate the remaining individual provisions of the SAFE Act, with some important changes in order to more fully meet the needs of both survivors and employers.
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The Job Protection for Survivors Act (H.R. 4015)
ÿ Allows a domestic violence survivor to take up to 15 days off from work to receive medical attention, seek legal assistance, and get help with safety planning.
ÿ Allows a survivor to take leave to participate in court proceedings related to the abuse for the duration of the trial.
ÿ Protects employees from being fired because they were harassed by their abuser, obtained protective orders, participated in the criminal or civil justice process, or sought modifications at work to increase workplace safety in response to domestic or sexual violence.
The Insurance Non-Discrimination for Survivors Act (H.R. 4014)
ÿ Prohibits employers or insurance providers from basing hiring or coverage decisions on a victims history of abuse.
The Unemployment Insurance for Survivors Act (H.R. 4016)
ÿ Ensures that survivors can retain the financial independence necessary to leave their abusers without relying on welfare by requiring that states provide unemployment benefits to those terminated due to circumstances stemming from domestic violence.
Congressman Poe is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus and life-long advocate for victims and law enforcement. Poe serves on the Board of Directors for the National Childrens Alliance in Washington, DC, and the Childrens Assessment Center in Houston, Texas.