NewsLocal NewsCleveland Metro


Local domestic violence victims, agencies support unemployment benefits for victims

Posted at 9:39 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 23:23:45-05

CLEVELAND — Some local domestic violence victims and the agencies that provide assistance are coming out in support of HB 508, which calls for unemployment benefits to be extended to qualifying domestic violence victims.

The measure sponsored by Rep. Jack Cera, (D) Ohio House District 96 and Bride Rose Sweeney, (D) Ohio House District 14 would amend the Ohio Revised Code to allow an individual to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits for unemployment due to domestic violence.

Sweeney told News 5 the measure would provide an important bridge for domestic violence victims in helping them maintain income during what is all too often the worst time in their lives.

She said 36 other states have enacted some form of unemployment benefits for domestic violence victims and it's time for Ohio to follow suit.

“Unfortunately, it surprised me that Ohio doesn’t have this spelled out in law,” Sweeney said.

“Currently we are seeing that some individuals are being denied this access.”

"The system is there for individuals, who really through no fault of their own have lost their jobs, so we need to give them this window to get them into the next job.”

“We want to make sure that people know that they are protected and they can go after these benefits.”

Judy Martin is a Cleveland domestic violence victim, who has spent a lifetime helping victims of violence through her "Survivors, Victim's of Tragedy" support group.

Martin knows first hand HB 508would provide key assistance and help victims leave their abusers.

“You try to think that this violence won’t happen again, and I can’t believe that I let it go on for three years,” Martin said.

“Then what do you do if you don’t have unemployment, you won’t be able to continue on, you won’t be able to leave that person."

"I know shelters do as much as they can but a mother doesn’t want to take her children into a shelter.”

Delores Gray's BrickHouse Wellness provides key support to dozens of survivors every year. Gray believes HB 508 will help victims through many employment unknowns.

“They’ve gotten fired because of the situation, and when they tried to get unemployment benefits, they couldn’t get it because their employer said they were late all the time. They didn’t take into account that they were being abused," Gray said.

“It’s extremely important because they have to live and they have to be able to take care of their family and they have to be able to get back on their feet."

Meanwhile, Sweeney's office told News 5 HB 508 has now been referred to Ohio's Criminal Justice Committee and she's hoping it will be ready for its first reading on the house floor later this Summer.