When deciding to leave a job, the expectation of receiving unemployment insurance benefits understandably plays a large role in an employee’s thought process. While many employees understand their rights regarding these benefits, we have found that there remains a great deal of confusion which, if not clarified, can lead to the unpleasant surprise of lost unemployment benefits.
The starting point is to understand that employees who quit or voluntarily leave work are not eligible to receive unemployment insurance. Of course, if an employee is forced to quit – resulting in either a resignation in lieu of discharge, or a constructive discharge – the employee remains entitled to benefits. But voluntarily terminating one’s employment disqualifies an employee from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Not surprisingly, therefore, many unemployment benefits case decisions turn on the issue of whether the employee voluntarily quit or was forced to quit.
When deciding whether to quit a job, then, the best decision for purposes of unemployment benefits is to continue working until they fire you. Of course, other considerations may come into play – such as prolonged harassment, a hostile work environment or unsafe work conditions, or simply quality of life. If you are struggling with the decision of whether to quit your job and would like to know how to weigh these various factors and the impact they should have on your decision, contact Luchansky Law so we can use our experience to help guide you through the process.
Employees Who are Forced to Quit May Still be Eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits
In an earlier post we mentioned that an employee who quits his or her job still may be eligible to receive unemployment insurance if the employee can prove that he or she was constructively discharged. In this post we explore further the topic of constructive discharge.
Constructive discharge basically occurs when an employer’s conduct leaves the employee little or no choice but to quit. There are many circumstances that may support a finding that the employee’s decision to quit actually is considered to be a “constructive discharge.” For example, in addition to harassment mentioned in an earlier post, the courts in Maryland have found that a drastic reduction to an employee’s hours is essentially asking an employee to resign.
However, persuading the court that work conditions were intolerable will only get the employee halfway to a finding of constructive discharge. The courts in Maryland also require an employee to prove that the employer’s conduct was intentionally calculated to cause the resignation. An employer may use the intent element as a defense, claiming that they had no desire for the employee to resign. Showing intent, however, is not as daunting as it seems. The Supreme Court has held repeatedly that employer”s intent can be proved by evidence that an employee”s resignation was “the foreseeable consequence of [the employer”s] conduct. Radio Officers” Union of Commercial Telegraphers Union v. NLRB, 347 U.S. 17 (1954).
The bottom line is that it is harder – but not impossible – to recover unemployment benefits when an employee claims to be forced to quit than when the employee is actually fired. To determine whether you have been constructively discharged and, therefore, still may be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits, contact the Workplace Law Attorneys at Luchansky Millman.