Code of the District of Columbia

§ 51–110. Disqualification for benefits.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on December 24, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of the temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

*NOTE: This section has been amended by emergency legislation with identical permanent legislation that will become effective in December, 2021.*

(a)(1) For weeks commencing after March 15, 1983, any individual who left his most recent work voluntarily without good cause connected with the work, as determined under duly prescribed regulations, shall not be eligible for benefits until he has been employed in each of 10 subsequent weeks (whether or not consecutive) and, notwithstanding § 51-101, has earned wages from employment as defined by this subchapter equal to not less than 10 times the weekly benefit amount to which he would be entitled pursuant to § 51-107(b).

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1) of this subsection, the term "good cause" includes working in unsafe locations or under unsafe conditions where such unsafe working condition or environment would cause a reasonable and prudent person in the labor market to leave the work, as determined by the Director based on the facts in each case.

(b)(1) For weeks commencing after January 3, 1993, any individual who has been discharged for gross misconduct occurring in his most recent work, as determined by duly prescribed regulations, shall not be eligible for benefits until he has been employed in each of 10 successive weeks (whether or not consecutive) and, notwithstanding § 51-101, has earned wages from employment as defined by this subchapter equal to not less than 10 times the weekly benefit amount to which he would be entitled pursuant to § 51-107(b).

(2) For weeks commencing after January 3, 1993, any individual who is discharged for misconduct, other than gross misconduct, occurring in the individual’s most recent work, as defined by duly prescribed regulations, shall not be eligible for benefits for the first 8 weeks otherwise payable to the individual or until the individual has been employed in each of 8 subsequent weeks (whether or not consecutive) and, notwithstanding § 51-101, has earned wages from employment as defined by this subchapter equal to not less than 8 times the weekly benefit amount to which the individual would have been entitled pursuant to § 51-107(b). In addition, such individual’s total benefit amount shall be reduced by a sum equal to 8 times the individual’s weekly benefit amount.

(3) Repealed.

(c)(1) For weeks commencing after March 15, 1983, if any individual without good cause (as determined under duly prescribed regulations) fails to apply for new work in covered employment found to be suitable when notified by any employment office or fails to accept any suitable work in covered employment when offered by any employment office, by a union hiring hall, or directly by any employer, that individual shall not be eligible for benefits until he has been employed in each of 10 subsequent weeks (whether or not consecutive) and, notwithstanding § 51-101, has earned remuneration from employment equal to not less than 10 times the weekly benefit amount to which he would be entitled pursuant to § 51-107(b).

(2) In determining whether or not work is suitable, the following shall be considered:

(A) The physical fitness and prior training, experience, and earnings of the individual;

(B) The distance of the place of work from the individual’s place of residence; and

(C) The risk involved as to health, safety, or morals.

(3) The term “in covered employment” as used in this section means employment which is insured under this subchapter or any other state or federal unemployment insurance program.

(d)(1) Benefits shall not be denied to any otherwise eligible individual for refusing to accept new work under any of the following conditions:

(A) If the position offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute;

(B) If the wages, earnings, hours, or other conditions of the work offered are less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality; or

(C) If as a condition of being employed the individual would be required to join a company union or to resign from or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization;

(2) Compensation shall not be denied to any otherwise eligible individual for any week during which he is attending a training or retraining course with the approval of the Director, and such individual shall be deemed to be otherwise eligible for any such week despite the provisions of § 51-109(4) and subsection (c) of this section.

(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, compensation shall not be denied or reduced to an individual solely because he files a claim in another state (or a contiguous country with which the United States has an agreement with respect to unemployment compensation) or because he resides in another state (or such a contiguous country) at the time he files a claim for unemployment compensation.

(4) Compensation shall not be denied to any otherwise eligible individual who leaves his or her most recent work to accompany his or her spouse or domestic partner to a place from which it is impractical to commute to the place of employment. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).

(5) Compensation shall not be denied to any otherwise eligible individual who leaves his or her most recent work to care for an ill or disabled family member. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “family member” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 2-1401.02(11B).

(e) If any individual otherwise eligible for benefits fails, without good cause as determined by the Director, to attend a training, retraining, or job counseling course when recommended by the manager of the employment office or by the Director and such course is available at public expense, he shall not be eligible for benefits with respect to any week in which such failure occurred.

(f) An individual shall not be eligible for benefits with respect to any week if it has been found by the Director that such individual is unemployed in such week as a direct result of a labor dispute, other than a lockout, still in active progress in the establishment where he is or was last employed; provided, that this subsection shall not apply if it is shown to the satisfaction of the Director that:

(1) He is not participating in or directly interested in the labor dispute which caused his unemployment; and

(2) He does not belong to a grade or class of workers of which, immediately before the commencement of the dispute, there were members employed at the premises at which the dispute occurs, any of whom are participating in or directly interested in the dispute; provided, that if in any case separate branches of work which are commonly conducted as separate businesses in separate premises are conducted in separate departments of the same premises, each such department shall, for the purposes of this subsection, be deemed to be a separate factory, establishment, or other premises.

(g) An individual shall not be eligible for benefits for any week with respect to which he has received or is seeking unemployment compensation under any other unemployment compensation law of another state or of the United States; provided, that if the appropriate agency of such other state or of the United States finally determines that he is not entitled to such unemployment benefits, this disqualification shall not apply.

(h) The eligibility of any individual, who is or has recently been pregnant, for benefits under this subchapter, shall be determined under the same standards and procedures as for any other claimant under this subchapter. There shall be no presumption that a person who is pregnant is physically unable to work, even when pregnancy was an issue with respect to the reason for separation from employment.

(i)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, no otherwise eligible individual shall be denied benefits for any week because:

(A) He or she is in training approved under § 236(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974;

(B) He or she is in such approved training by reason of leaving work to enter such training; provided, that the work left is not suitable employment; or

(C) Because of the application to any such week in training of provisions in this law (or any federal unemployment insurance law administered hereunder) relating to availability for work, active search for work or refusal to accept work.

(D) He or she is enrolled in an approved certificate course authorized by subchapter III of Chapter 16 of Title 32 [§ 32-1651 et seq.], and maintaining a satisfactory level of attendance and achievement, as required by subchapter III of Chapter 16 of Title 32 [§ 32-1651 et seq.].

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term “suitable employment” means, with respect to an individual, work of a substantially equal or higher skill level than the individual’s past adversely affected employment (as defined for purposes of the Trade Act of 1974), and wages as determined for purposes of the Trade Act of 1974.

(j)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, an individual who is unemployed within the meaning of this subchapter, has exhausted all regular unemployment benefits provided under this subchapter, including any extensions of benefits, and who is enrolled in and making satisfactory progress in a District-approved training program or in a job training program authorized under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, approved August 7, 1998 (112 Stat. 936; 29 U.S.C. § 2822), shall be eligible for training extension benefits if the Director determines that the following criteria are met:

(A) The training program will prepare the claimant for entry into a high-demand occupation;

(B) The claimant was separated from employment in a declining occupation or has been involuntarily and indefinitely separated from employment as a result of a permanent reduction of operations at the claimant’s place of prior employment;

(C) The claimant is making satisfactory progress towards completion of the training as determined by the Director, including the submission of written statements from the training program provider; and

(D) The claimant is not receiving similar stipends or other training allowances for non-training costs.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1) of this subsection, the term:

(A) “Declining occupation” shall be defined by the Director based upon currently available labor market information.

(B) “High-demand occupation” shall be defined by the Director based upon currently available labor market information.

(C) “Similar stipends” means an amount provided under a program with similar goals, such as providing training to increase employability, and in similar amounts. Similar stipends of non-training cost allowances shall be treated as “earnings” as defined in § 51-101(4).

(3) A claimant who is eligible for a training extension pursuant to this subsection shall be enrolled in training and making satisfactory progress as the Director may determine will increase the employability of the claimant in the District labor market.

(4) The weekly training extension benefit amount payable to the eligible individual shall be equal to the claimant’s weekly benefit amount for the most recent benefit year less any deductible or income as determined pursuant to this subchapter. The total amount of training extension benefits payable to a claimant shall not exceed 26 times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount of the most recent benefit year.

(5) If the claimant completes the training program, ceases to be making satisfactory progress, or stops attending the training program, the claimant shall not be eligible for further training extension benefits unless the Director determines that the claimant has resolved the impediment.

(6) A claimant seeking training extension benefits may apply for the benefits at any time prior to the end of the claimant’s initial benefit year or the end of any period of extended benefits.

(7) No training extension benefits paid pursuant to this subchapter shall be charged to individual employer accounts.