Can Domestic Violence Survivors Get Unemployment Benefits in Florida?



The State of Florida provides unemployment benefits to people who lose their jobs because they are let go. Floridians requiring unemployment may file for support while they look for new jobs. If a person leaves a job on their own accord, however, they’re not eligible for these government benefits. 

Unemployment benefits, also called “reemployment assistance,” are intended for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. If an employee voluntarily decides to quit their job, they don’t qualify to receive benefits. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as a person quitting to relocate with their military spouse and, most recently, if they’re suffering as a victim of domestic abuse. 

When Are Domestic Violence Survivors Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

Last June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 563, which amended Florida statute 443.101, which details eligibility status for reemployment assistance. As of July 1, 2019, victims of domestic violence who are forced to leave their job and/or relocate to escape an abusive situation are eligible for unemployment benefits. With this law, Florida joins more than 40 other states and territories that provide these employment protections to domestic violence victims. 

The amended Florida Statute 443.101 now reads that reemployment assistance benefits are available to persons who are:

“Voluntarily leaving work if he or she proves that his or her discontinued employment is a direct result of circumstances related to domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28.”

There are, however, a few caveats. To qualify for unemployment benefits, a person must:

  • Prove they made “reasonable efforts to preserve employment,” such as a request to be transferred to a different location in a place that is secure and safe.
  • Prove that domestic violence happened by providing a court injunction or protective order as evidence. 
  • Demonstrate a “reasonable belief” that they’re “likely to be the victim of a future act of domestic violence at, in transit to, or departing from his or her place of employment.”

When a person no longer meets these criteria or their employer provides a “reasonable accommodation” to address safety concerns, they’re no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. Domestic violence victims might be spouses, ex-spouses, parents, or anyone living together currently or in the past. 

Domestic Violence According to Florida Law  

Domestic violence is defined under Florida Statute 741.28 as:

Any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death…”

The statute adds that the abuser can be either a family member or anyone living under the same roof. 

Why Unemployment Benefits for Domestic Violence Survivors Are Important

No one should ever have to suffer violence or abuse in the home. When a person is violently abused at home, they’ll likely be searching for a way out of their situation. Unfortunately, the way out often isn’t easy. 

Domestic violence victims might have to choose between having a job that brings financial security by staying in an abusive situation – or risk losing the protection of a place to live by leaving the abusive situation. In many instances, leaving an abusive home means victims must also leave their jobs. Mindy Murphy, CEO of The Spring of Tampa Bay, explains:

“For some survivors, work is no longer a safe place. If an abuser knows where her workplace is and knows what time she comes and goes, that creates a perfect opportunity for him to find her and potentially harm her. For that person working in a job where there’s only one location… This is creating an opportunity for a survivor to be able to leave the job but have some income while they find a new position.” 

By allowing victims of domestic violence to qualify for reemployment assistance, Florida law is subsequently empowering victims to become survivors. 

Contact Orlando’s Trusted Domestic Violence Attorneys at Fighter Law

The domestic violence attorneys at Fighter Law understand how difficult it can be to escape an abusive home. The first step in stopping domestic violence is to file an injunction, which serves as proof to Florida’s courts that domestic violence actually occurred. That’s a requirement for receiving benefits. When you’re ready to file an injunction, the attorneys at Fighter Law are here to help you. Our highly skilled law team has decades of combined experience handling countless domestic violence cases in and around Orlando, Florida.

To speak with one of our experienced domestic violence lawyers, complete an online contact form or call anytime at (407)-FIGHTER (344-4837). The consultation is free and confidential.

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