6/13/2014 7:50:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - A Georgia woman who quit her job in fear for her life after her ex-boyfriend threatened her should not have been denied unemployment benefits, an appeals court ruled.
Latresha Scott spent four years in a relationship with a man who subjected her to severe and repeated physical and mental abuse. Some of the abuse took place in front of the couple's two children, and once sent Scott to the emergency room.
The ex-boyfriend's actions resulted in his repeated convictions for assault, battery, criminal trespass and cruelty to children.
Scott obtained a pair of restraining orders, but the ex-boyfriend violated them repeatedly by stalking, threatening and harassing her.
In 2012, the ex-boyfriend discovered where Scott worked, followed her home and confronted her. She checked into a domestic-violence shelter and took two weeks off from work, fearing that the ex-boyfriend could attack her and her co-workers.
Scott's fears did not subside after two weeks, so her boss advised her to resign. That employer nevertheless opposed Scott's application for unemployment benefits, citing that she had quit voluntarily.
Shortly after she checked into the shelter, Scott's stepfather murdered her mother and then took his own life. Her ex-boyfriend appeared at the funeral and grabbed her by the arms before Scott's family members ejected him.
A hearing officer denied Scott's request for unemployment benefits, ruling that she had "the burden to whatever a reasonable person would do to retain her employment."
The Fulton County Superior Court affirmed the decision, but the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled last week that Scott deserved unemployment benefits.
"Even though the employer did not create or contribute to the dangers at issue, to deny Scott benefits under the circumstances presented would, in effect, require her to work in a dangerous environment wherein she and numerous others would be unnecessarily exposed to the actual threat of violence due to circumstances that are entirely beyond their control," Judge John Ellington wrote for a three-judge panel.
The June 4 ruling does name either the employer to Scott's ex.