CMH Services Explains How Quitting Can Effect Your Right to Unemployment Benefits

How and why you quit your job can determine whether or not you can qualify for unemployment benefits.


Employees are often afraid of being terminated unfairly, and some would rather quit the job to avoid a negative mark on their record. Quitting to avoid termination can sometimes be worse for the employee than fighting an unfair termination. CMH Services has some advice drawn from representing claimants before the unemployment judges of New York State.

In New York the maximum unemployment benefit is $420 per week. That money is needed to survive while you look for your next job. How you handle your separation from employment will determine if you are able to qualify for benefits.

1. If you feel your employer is getting ready to fire you for some violation of policy, it is often not a good idea to quit first. In unemployment hearings, a claimant who has quit to avoid discipline has a heavier burden to win than a claimant who has been fired for the same conduct. The reason is that while an employer may not jump the gun to terminate you, if you quit for the same conduct, you have effectively terminated yourself. However, there are exceptions to this rule that can get complicated.

2. If you feel that your employer is trying to make you quit with bad reviews or snide comments, then quitting may actually reward the employer for his bad conduct. When you quit without “good cause” it disqualifies you from receiving unemployment and saves the employer from paying more towards unemployment expenses. Unethical employers know this and try to trick workers they have no legal basis to fire into leaving without “good cause.” Don’t fall for this trick.

3. Quitting is allowed under certain circumstances. Many people incorrectly think that all quitting will disqualify a claimant for unemployment benefits. If you are subject to harassment, violations of the employment or anti-discrimination laws, certain family emergencies, certain child care emergencies, or matters out of your control, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits. If the situation is unbearable and you can explain how the employer is mistreating you, then you may be able to quit without losing your right to benefits. However, depending on your situation, if there is overt harassment you should contact a trained professional before you quit to explore whether or not you may be able to file something to put an end to the discrimination or harassment.

In short, unemployment is an important safety net for you and your family. Don’t risk losing this important lifeline while you are unemployed. Consult a professional who represents claimants before the judges who handle unemployment matters to make sure you protect your rights.

CMH Services represents employees facing racial, sexual, age-related, disability, and many other forms of discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination. CMH Services also represents employees at unemployment hearings, mediations, and arbitrations.

local_offerevent_note September 12, 2016

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