|My job is affected by domestic violence – could I qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits if I have to quit or if I am fired because of the violence?||
You could qualify for unemployment benefits if you lost your job or if you had to quit or leave your job because of domestic violence. For example, you may have quit because you thought that staying in your job would threaten your safety or that of a member of your immediate family.
Members of your immediate family include:
The Department of Labor recognizes that domestic violence occurs in many relationships, such as:
For more, please see our Unemployment Insurance and Domestic Violence factsheet.
|What is domestic violence?||
Domestic violence is a pattern of threats and/or physical abuse by one person against an intimate partner or other family member to establish and maintain power and control. The abuse can be:
An abuser may:
To find out more about domestic violence, see the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence's website, “Finding Safety and Support.”
|If I qualify, what benefits could I receive?||
Unemployment Insurance is temporary income for eligible workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. If you qualify, you can receive benefits of up to $504 per week, depending on how much you earned in the 18 months before you filed your claim. You can usually collect benefits for up to 26 weeks.
For more information about how your benefit rate is calculated, please see the Claimant Handbook or "How is my weekly benefit rate determined?"
|How do I qualify for benefits?||
To qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must meet these requirements:
You may also have a claim for employment discrimination if your employer fired you because you were a victim or survivor of domestic violence. To find out more, see "What can I do if my employer discriminated against me because I am a victim of domestic violence?"
* If you became disabled because of the domestic violence, you may consider filing a claim for disability.
Refer to our Pandemic Unemployment Assistance webpage.
|How do I apply for benefits?||
See File Your First Claim for Benefits for instructions. You should file your claim in the first week that you have become unemployed. This is important because your first week is an unpaid week, called a "waiting week." (Note that this waiting week is currently waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember to certify for each week.)
Services for non-English speakers: We offer help in Spanish and other languages. We also offer interpretation services. Call 1-888-209-8124 and follow the instructions on the phone system. Call during the hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 7:30 pm.
|What information do I need to file my claim?||See File Your First Claim for Benefits for instructions.|
|What happens after I apply?||
When we get your claim for Unemployment Insurance and see that you lost or left your job because of domestic violence, we may need more information to make a decision. A representative will contact you to interview you about your last job and your separation from work. This may be by phone or by secure messaging. When you use our NY.gov online services to file your claim, we may contact you through the NY.gov secure message system. Make sure you check and respond to any messages or questionnaires we may send.
The representative will also ask your employer for information before we make a decision.
|What will the interviewer ask?||
The claims representative will ask you questions about your claim and the domestic violence. If you lost your job, we will ask you why you think your employer fired you because of the domestic violence. If you quit your job because the domestic violence made you afraid for your safety or the safety of a family member (parent, spouse or domestic partner, child, grandparent, brother or sister), we will ask you questions about that. We will ask why you were afraid and why you felt you had to quit your job to stay safe.
Questions we may ask questions about your job include:
We may also ask if you attempted to keep your job. If the employer told you that you might lose your job, did you try to perform better? Did you try to manage absences or lateness? Did you ask your employer if you could transfer to another location?
If you quit your job to relocate to get away from the abuser, the examiner may ask:
|How can I prepare for the interview?||You should be prepared to explain exactly how the domestic violence relates to:
Did your employer fire you when you asked for time off to go to court because of the domestic violence? Did you lose your job because your employer felt you weren’t doing your job well anymore? Were you late to or absent from work due to the abuse? Did you quit because your abuser harassed you at work? Did you quit because you were afraid for your safety? Did you quit because you felt you had to move when the abuser threatened to hurt your children? You should tell us this level of detail specific to your case.
|Do I need proof of the domestic violence?||The law requires you to provide “reasonable and confidential documentation” of the violence. Sometimes, we can accept your statement in your Unemployment Insurance claim that you lost or left your job because of domestic violence. The spoken details you give in your interview may be enough. Other times, we may have to ask you for written documentation as evidence of the domestic violence, and you should be prepared to send copies.|
|What kind of documents may I need?||
If you called the police about the domestic violence, you can send us a copy of:
If you a have an order of protection, you should send us a copy. If the abuse was prosecuted, but did not result in an order of protection, ask the prosecutor to write a letter for you. If you did not call the police or get an order of protection, or you do not have a copy of these things, be prepared to explain why.
If you did, you can send notes or a letter from any of these people about the violence.
|What will happen if I have no documentation about the domestic violence?||You may be eligible to receive benefits even if you have nothing written about the violence – a police report, order of protection, doctor’s note, advocate’s letter. Just be prepared to explain to our representative why you do not have any of those things.|
|What happens after the interview?||
We will review the details and documents both you and your employer provide, and decide to grant or deny you benefits. If we approve your claim, you should receive your first benefit payment three to six weeks from when you filed your claim. Then you will get Unemployment Insurance benefits weekly, as long as you continue to:
If we deny your claim, you will receive a “Notice of Determination of Ineligibility or Disqualification” in the mail telling you why. The notice will also explain:
|What can I do if you do not approve my claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits?||If you disagree with any determination that denies you benefits or affects the amount of benefits you can receive, you have the right to request a hearing. Learn more about the Department of Labor's hearing process and where you can go for legal assistance.|
|Can I get legal help or other representation to help me get benefits, challenge the amount of weekly benefits, or appeal a denial?||The Department of Labor maintains a listing of legal services organizations, private attorneys, and registered representatives that can help you with an appeal of your Unemployment Insurance claim. Some of these providers charge a fee and some are free (if you qualify). The Appeal Board does not endorse, recommend or guarantee the work of any person or organization on the list. Please visit the UI Appeal Board Guides and Resources page and select "List of Attorneys and Authorized Representatives."|
|What if I must move due to safety concerns (related to domestic violence) while I collect Unemployment Insurance benefits?||Victims and survivors of domestic violence often need to move for safety reasons. If you have to leave your local job market, you should tell the Telephone Claims Center before you move. Call 888-209-8124. They will tell you if you can continue to collect Unemployment Insurance benefits during a temporary or permanent relocation. If you do not tell the Telephone Claims Center, you could lose your benefits.|
|What can I do if my employer discriminated against me because I am a victim of domestic violence?||
You can file a discrimination claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights if you believe you were:
If your abuser violates the order of protection or becomes abusive at your workplace, the employer should call the police as they would for any other misconduct in the workplace.
* It is illegal for an employer to take action against an employee who is a crime victim for taking time off to appear in court as a witness, to consult with a district attorney, or to get an order of protection (NY Penal Law § 215.14). This specific right is not enforced by the Division of Human Rights. However, it would be discriminatory under the Human Rights Law to treat a victim or survivor of domestic violence any differently than employees who need time off for other reasons.
|What could happen if I file a claim with the Division of Human Rights?||
You do not need to hire an attorney to file a claim. If your claim is successful, you may be entitled to financial reimbursement. If you have lost your job because of discrimination, you may get your job back.
(It is against the law for an employer to take any action in retaliation against an employee who files a discrimination complaint.)
|How do I file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR)?||
For more information about how to file a complaint, see the Division’s website at www.dhr.ny.gov.
*The New York State Human Rights Law covers employers with four or more employees. You must file a complaint with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act. The law protects domestic violence victims and survivors against employment actions taken on or after July 7, 2009.
|What options do I have to increase safety at work?||
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.
Order of protection:
When you work for the same employer as your abuser:
|Should I tell my employer?||This depends on your situation. Do you think your employer can make changes or offer help that would help you feel safer or do better at work? You are not required to tell your employer that you are a domestic violence victim or survivor. However, you may need to tell your employer in order to get changes made to increase your safety at work. Also, it is harder to prove discrimination if you have not told your employer that you are a victim or survivor. That makes it hard to determine how and when your employer found out about the violence.|
|What are some advantages of telling my employer?||
When you tell your employer, it allows you to ask for help and accommodations at your worksite. This may help keep the workplace safer for you and your coworkers. It may help you continue to work at your job.
Telling your employer might also help explain any performance problems related to the violence or stalking.
|What are some disadvantages to telling my employer?||
Your employer might pressure you to leave your abuser or to get a protective order. This may not be the right step for you at this moment.
Your employer might fire you just because you are a victim or survivor of domestic violence. That would be against the law, but enforcing the law may be difficult or take a long time. Keeping a steady paycheck might be more important for your present and future stability.
|How do I decide whether to tell my employer?||
There is no way to predict how an employer will react. When an employer has a policy for employees who are victims or survivors of domestic violence, this tells you:
Consider how much support you can expect from your employer. Review any workplace policies against:
This might tell you how they will respond. Another hint may be how flexible your employer usually is about work or personnel issues.
|Who might be able to help me at work?||
Decide how comfortable you are with disclosing the domestic violence. If you can talk about it, you may have resources at work to support and help. Some of these resource people may be required to keep your information confidential. Clarify this before discussing your situation with:
|What other resources are available to help?||
Domestic violence service providers: If you experienced abuse from an intimate partner, please call the 24-Hour NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline. The hotline provides: