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Oregon Unemployment for Good Cause to Follow Spouse to New Location

I was recently married 1 year ago in May to a man in Oregon. I have a good job in the Tri-Cities, WA and we have been trying to relocate my husband to the Tri-Cities and have been looking for him a job here even before we were married. He has had one interview and he has applied for numerous jobs. He is currently employed as a Landscape Foreman in Oregon, and just this year his company has cut his wages 15 percent. The cost of us commuting back and forth to see each other is killing us.

Anyway, I was told that maybe my husband could quit his job to relocate here in the Tri-Cities and that maybe he could collect unemployment. If it wasn't for the child support he pays we maybe could afford to keep us afloat until he found a job, but my salay can't pay his house my house child support etc.

I think the fact that he has a job is what is keeping him from getting a job here....?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Denise Barbour
Pasco, WA

Hi Denise,

First of all, I apologize for the length of my response to your question. According to the Oregon Administrative Rules that are currently in place, OAR 471-030-0038(1)(e) "compelling family reasons" means, the need to accompany the individual's spouse or domestic partner (i) to a place from which it is impractical for such an individual to commute and (ii) Due to a change in location of the spouse's or domestic partner's employment. The problem with part (ii) of this is that you two you were recently married, so I am not sure about if they could disqualify on grounds that it isn't a change in location of spouse's employment but rather a new marriage. Here is the link to the website that you can read the OAR’s. Also under ORS 657.176 is such that a reasonable and prudent person exercising ordinary common sense would leave work. The link to this ORS is . I am also going to include a link for a letter that was written by the Oregon Employment Director concerning the new OAR’s and ORS’s that have recently gone into affect. I might add that these new rules and statutes have not been wholly interpreted yet and is open for misinterpretation and in my opinion is happening as I write this. Here is the link for the letter:

Having noted those 2 ORS and OAR's, in my opinion you have valid arguments as to your husband quitting his job and relocating to Washington to be with you, you had stated that 1) your husband took a 15% cut in pay and 2) that the two of you have been commuting back and forth for a year. This would substantiate the claim that this commuting and supporting two households is creating a significant economic hardship, not to mention that they can’t reasonably think that you could continue a long distance marriage for any longer of a time period
than a year. I would like to stress that just because these are in the administrative rules and the revised statutes, being granted unemployment is not a given. Oregon has a high rate of unemployment and they are not in the custom of handing money out right and left, they are looking for any little thing to find that can disqualify a person from unemployment. So what I am telling you is that you need to have your i's dotted and your t's crossed. I have recently been going through the process to collect unemployment from Oregon for voluntarily leaving work to follow my husband to a new location. Although my situation is different than yours, they denied my benefits based on factors such as, that "I should have stayed in Oregon until I found a job at the new location and that although this separation may have been uncomfortable for claimant; she failed to prove that this created a grave situation for her". This decision came from an Administrative Law Judge after my unemployment hearing. And let me tell you, I did express a hardship, but ALJ's are only human and what is a grave situation for her in her opinion is not the same as mine or maybe even yours. They are supposed to remain objective and impartial but I don't believe that was the story in my case. My suggestion to you regarding proving a grave situation and economic hardship is prepare a budget that reflects what your monthly bills are supporting two households, income to debt ratio and commuting costs and it will need to look like an economic harship.

Let me explain how the whole process works. Once you have made the decision for your husband to relocate, he will then file for UI benefits, if there is a question of whether or not he left his work for good cause the application will be placed on a review status. Then an adjudicator will call to ask questions regarding why he left his work, at this stage it is vitally important that your husband stress the economic hardship and that you two could not continue maintaining two households and meet all of the other financial obligations until your husband found work in Washington and the fact that you were married a year ago and are continuing to commute back and forth to share a life and marriage. Remember that for all individuals, the reason must be of such gravity that the individual has no reasonable alternative but to leave work. If the adjudicator does not feel that your husband had good cause to voluntarily leave his work. The appeals process will begin.

In my opinion, I believe that under the current rules and statutes, your husband should be able to relocate and be granted good cause for relocating to be with his "spouse" and collect unemployment but I suggest that you be prepared to have to go through the phases of having to prove your case. I hope that this has been helpful to you!


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