DEAR CARRIE: I have gotten conflicting information regarding a corporate transfer out of state and unemployment benefits for a “trailing spouse,” or an employee who quits a job to relocate with a transferred spouse. Does it matter whether the transferred spouse requested the move or if the company required it?
— Leaving New York
DEAR LEAVING: It shouldn’t make a difference who made the request if the trailing spouse is otherwise eligible for jobless benefits, a local employment attorney said.
“Based on the question presented, whether the transferring spouse was forced or volunteered to be transferred out of state makes no difference,” said Christine Malafi, a partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick in Ronkonkoma. “And the trailing spouse who immediately follows will likely qualify for NYS unemployment benefits.”
Under New York law, a trailing spouse may even qualify for benefits if he or she quits a job to move with an unemployed spouse who found work in a different locality, Malafi said.
But a trailing spouse doesn’t always qualify for unemployment benefits, she said. For example, if a spouse waits too long to follow, or if he or she quits a job to follow a spouse to college or to move with a retired spouse, he or she may not qualify for unemployment benefits, Malafi said.
When a transfer requires a move out of New York State, the trailing spouse must make a claim for unemployment benefits in the new state, she said.
“So it is important to check the laws of the specific state to which the family is moving,” she said.
The new state will most likely be entitled to reimbursement from New York State for any unemployment benefits paid, Malafi said.
DEAR READERS: The fragrance-ban question that ran two weeks ago, from an employee who was upset at an employer who instituted a blanket prohibition on scents in the office, drew interesting email responses from several readers who praised the employer. The readers noted that some people have severe reactions that are tantamount to disabilities. Here are some samples:
“On one occasion, I was in the car with someone who was wearing perfume. I had [a severe] reaction that forced me to get out of the car. I avoided a hospital visit by taking a dose and a half of Benadryl, but it was quite frightening. I was nauseous, and I spent about 36 hours in bed after this exposure. Another friend uses only unscented products in his house, since some fragrances cause him to have breathing difficulties. There are serious consequences for some people when they are exposed to various fragrances.”
“I used to wear fragrances like everyone else, but then I was exposed to a poisonous chemical at work and developed huge polyps in my nose. One of the results was that I developed a tremendous allergy to fragrances. Now I can hardly breathe when I’m near fragrances. The fragrances affect my lungs. This becomes a handicap like any other handicap, and consideration must be shown. “
“I would like to include, as an advocate for the Americans With Disabilities Act, that there are many reasons that an employer would seek to ban their use. If employees could not work in the environment due to their disability, the employer has an obligation to maintain their rights to the best of its ability and with reasonableness.”
“Allergy to fragrances is an affliction many people have to deal with, and there are NO allergy shots for such an illness. Doctors tell their patients that avoidance is the only answer. These fragrance-sensitive employees just want the right to have access to work that everyone else takes for granted. It helps if you think of fragrances as secondhand smoke. No one wants to work in an office with secondhand smoke for reasons that are obvious today.”
Thanks for your comments. Keep them coming.