Personal Finance

Can You Collect Unemployment If You Quit Your Job?

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Your job has gotten worse and worse. You dread going to work every day but you’re afraid to quit. After all, you can’t collect unemployment if you quit your job.

Or can you?

Spencer Cohn, a national employee representative and founder of BeatTheBoss.tv says don’t be so sure. You may still be able to collect, but you have to approach it the right way.

I recently interviewed Cohn on my radio show and he offered some advice on how to quit your job and collect unemployment. This is an edited excerpt from that interview.

Gerri:  So you say that people can actually quit their job and still collect unemployment? I think that’ll be a big surprise.

Yes, people don’t understand that. The problem is, typically what happens is somebody says “I had enough, I quit.” That’s the wrong way of quitting because when did it come about where you’ve had enough? Did you have enough yesterday? If you’d had enough yesterday, why didn’t you quit yesterday? Or a week before? Why today?

What they fail to do is document their complaints. Just like an employer does if they don’t like the employee, or they’re having problems with the employee, they document it. They send out reprimands and disciplinary notices.

What the employee needs to do is as soon as they’re disgruntled and have had enough, they need to notify their employer in writing and document it. They can say, “Listen, I went to the employer on such and such day and this is what I have a problem with, you’re putting more responsibilities and jobs on me that I didn’t agree to do when I was hired and I am paying for things that I didn’t agree to when I was hired, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to compensate me?”

And typically the employer will say, “Oh don’t worry about it, we’re going to work on it, I’m going to take care of you.” That makes the employee continue to work there. And then finally on the last day, they say, “I’ve been complaining all this time, I’ve complained several times in the month of December, I’ve complained several times in the month of February, nothing’s happened. What do you plan on doing about it?”

Finally, the employer’s going to say, “Nothing actually, because I can’t afford it.” Then you’ve got reason to quit. Clearly the employer has shown that he was going to induce you to stay by telling you he’s going to take care of things and change things and then finally admits, “Nothing’s going to change, if you don’t like it, you can leave.”

If you document it all these times and you have a hearing at least you are going to have the proof you need to show a good cause for giving up your job.

So does the worker need to quit in writing or is it okay to quit verbally?

There’s no obligation to give notice to your employer, unless there’s something in writing under a contract or in a handbook that you signed saying otherwise. Most employees give employers notice because they feel it’s the morally correct thing to do.

But how many times has an employer fired an employee and not give them notice that they’re firing that individual? It doesn’t ever happen.

What I would do, is I would simply say, “Today’s my last day.” I would not put down why or anything of that sort because what happens is the employer can always dangle this information in a future unemployment hearing. They say, “Hey, here’s why this person resigned and they even stated in their resignation letter they had a great experience, it was wonderful, they had great managers.”

And then when you’re at an unemployment hearing, you’re having to defend your own notice.

So, a notice is simply a notice: I resign on a certain date. There’s no obligation to put down why or anything of that kind, because things change. Who knows? You start thinking about it and realize, “I quit my job for a number of reasons I did not list when I turned in my resignation letter.”

To hear more of Spencer Cohn’s advice on collecting unemployment, including how to navigate tougher new rules for collecting, listen to the full interview: Listen online, download the interview, or listen on itunes.

Image: Burt Lum, via Flickr

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  • http://None Juan Monzon

    Question: I am in the state of Florida. My unemployment compensation claim appeal was dismissed because the mediator said I applied late. I participated in a hearing but no decision was made by those present. Do you take unemployment compensation claim cases or can you recommend someone to me who is in south Florida? Your response would be most appreciated. Juan Monzon

    • Spencer, Nat’l Employee Rep.

      I represent claimants in unemployment hearings in Florida as well as in most states, but I’m afraid you’ve reached out to me too late.

  • veronica kelly

    I was hired by Home Depot March 30th,1990 18yrs. as a Kitchen Designer,rest as flooring associate, and plumbing associate, I enjoyed working with people, I transfer to Florida with my New Jersey Salary, the store manager who hired me in the Gatlin Blvd.store is no longer there. In 2010 the three Designers including me was put on PIP that”s when the Economy crash and no one was buying kitchen, people was holding on to their money, the managers pretend they don”t know whats going on,from November through February I was called into the office for customer complaint, the first on said I told her the reason her foot is hurting her is because she is too fat, never happened,they tried to lay a foundation of bad customer service. second one customer tripped on a piece of 4×8 sheet of laminate, when I say what happened I went to the customer and ask if he was OK. he rolled up his pants and said he was.I had nothing to do with it, but for my own concern, I found out who place the laminate on the floor, I was called in the office again I told them I had nothing to do with it, the store manager Antonio Vasquez told me that if the customer had sued Home Depot I would be fired, but they said nothing to the associate that put it there.At one point I think the store manager was sending people directly to me and then make up these stories.the next customer customer came in the department and he wanted a design using the stock cabinets, which came to under $2,000.the husband liked the price. the wife came in she did not like the cabinets, and she wants a design using the special order ones, I could not do the second design at that time because my appointment had arrived, I told her that if I have the time to do it I will, and will fax it to her,that never happen I was the only one working, when you get overtime it have to be cut. now the customer refused to make an appointment, she comes in the next day I was sitting with my appointment. I explained to her that I did”t get the time to do the design, but as soon as I am finished I would take care of it and fax it to her which I did, it came to $5,000. I called and spoke with the husband who said it was too expensive, by that time she spoke with Antonio the store manager. I was called to the office again I explain to him what had happen, he told me that he knows the customer from his old store and I have cost him over $17,000 because that”s what the customer was going to spend, I told him impossible because $5,000 was too much. Antonio told me that I was given two Final warnings and in all his years with Home Depot he never see anyone gets two warning and still with the Co. I said to him that I know nothing two warnings unless he is talking about the PIP in 2010. March 30 was my monetary review I was called in the office April first I was called to the office for my review, everything was negative where customer service was concern, I was told this is a round table decision, he had the termination paper already filled out. he previously fired three Jamaicans I am the 4th.February 18 he brought in an associate from another store who is a kitchen designer and appliance person, at that time I was told by another associate that he was going to take my place, on my day off he would cover, now I am fired he takes over. the two designers in kitchen is now white.I think I am being discriminated. I gave them 23years.

    • Spencer, Nat’l employee Rep

      If you believe you were treated unfairly, you should contact and file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and you should file for unemployment benefits.

  • Jennifer Jarvis

    I’m wondering if I have a shot at getting unemployment and if you could give me tips on how to fight in my hearing. I wish I had read this article before I quit because it might would have helped in my approach. My company required that we had a quota of recruiting 16 foster parents and I was unable to meet the requirement. I thought it was in the whole year but my supervisor told me it was 4 per quarter after I was working there. Anyway, in Jan they gave me a verbal written warning that if I didn’t get my numbers up my last day would be March 1st. Then in Feb I received a written warning, same thing. My supervisor said I could quit but didn’t say I had to resign. I wrote my resignation saying that I quit bc i wasn’t given the budget promised. What should I say to fight the dispute?

    Thanks!
    Jen

    • Credit.com

      It’s going to be difficult to fight for unemployment in your case because it wasn’t documented. We’re not saying it’s not possible but, unfortunately, we’re not attorney’s and can’t provide legal advice. Our suggestion would be to speak with an attorney to find out what your rights are and whether or not you have a case to fight for unemployment.

  • kaigler

    I quit my job because it was my last option. I was given FMLA to care for sick parent and reported my time accuartely for some reason my employer did not send information over to company that handles leaves until over 30 days later. Within that time I also left to take my maternity leave. Now this is where it gets confusing. My maternity leave went into effect 12/18/2012. On 1/3/2013 I received a call from the FMLA company explaining that time was denied for any dates I used prior to 12/18 because my company did not report time to them until 12/28. I contacted my employer 6 days before my delivery date and advised them of the issue. my sup stated that all they can do is place me on a final 6 month written. After maternity leave ended a tragic incident happened with my newborn son which required me to request for more leave. All FMLA was exhausted so I had to take a leave I requested a 90 day leave but was denied and only granted 30 days. With the written in place per company policy no sick time can be granted and i can not use personal or vacation time until after 30 days of attendance. which is not possible to do with a new born and sick parent. they refused to adjust my schedule etc. i filed for UI but was denied. During the first hearig my employer did not show up however I was still denied UI even after that hearing. I am now on my second appeal do you have any suggestions for me?

    • Spencer, Nat’l Employee Rep

      I would seek representation to try and salvage your situation. You may contact me to discuss further.

  • Erica Esser Burdick

    I am currently in the appeals process. I have filed and wondering how I should go about this. I did quit my job due to being a liability. I was working in a factory which requires leather shoes. Due medical condition I cannot comply with this rule. I do have medical documentation stating this. I did month prior to actually quitting receive a letter asking for my resignation. I sent an email with a PDF file attached. Stating what my limitations were and that I would know more then. I unfortunately left a message when I had quit because no one was available. The company states I never gave them any letter stating limitations. What should or should I not do? I’m a total wreck

    • Spencer, Nat’l Employee Rep.

      I’m not sure I completely understand our situation. It sounds like you were fired for not wearing the proper uniform, however, you state there was a medical reason for nor doing so. Could you give me further clarification?

  • Spencer, Nat’l Employee Rep.

    Well asking to work at home is not the same as being granted permission to work from home. Based on what you’ve written, it sounds like you were fired, so I’m not quite sure where your resigning fits in. Contact me to discuss further.

  • Spencer, Nat’l Employee Rep

    Well, I’d like to hear from your boyfriend. Unless he has a doctor’s recommendation that his work is killing him, I’m not sure what to believe. You can have him contact me to discuss.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    You should apply and find out. If declined, you would have the ability to appeal.

  • Spencer, Nat’l Employee Rep.

    The question becomes, why didn’t you quit years ago? The typical answer is: I needed the money. So what has changed now? You don’t need the money? If you’ve had enough, you should be documenting all dates and statements made to you over the last 6-9 months, ie., threats, language used, etc. . I’m not sure what you mean by the treatment is making you sick. Did your doctor advise you to quit? Try not to take things so personally. The customers aren’t YOUR customers, they are his. Be like “Tonalist” the horse that won at the Belmont Stakes last week. He ignored the rest of the field and won and yet he was barely on the radar. If you still can take it anymore, contact me for assistance.

  • noemi

    I resigned because my jobs was not safe and I sent a resignation letter I applied for unemployment and they sent me this: An issue has been identified on your claim. Please attend the non-monetary appointment listed below so a claims agent may resolve this issue. Does this mean I won’t be able to collect. I tried to get reassigned and they told me since the reduction in force process was over they could not do any
    thing. My appointment is on 08/13/2014 at 10:40am. What should I do?

  • garnet07

    I work for a fortune 500 company and I’ve been out on disability for 3 months I’ve seen several doctors because of a herniated disc in my neck and pain.also i have fibromyalgia which has been worse since I’ve had the problem with the disk and I have ringing in my left ear and hearing losd brought on by the new phone system they put in My own Dr. wanted to keep me out till mid October. I’m supposed to go back the end of October to see the surgeon to see if I need to have surgery . Then disibility called me today and told me that I have to go back to work they will stop paying me as of today! if I don’t go back and get fired will I be able to collect unemployment?

    • Spencer Cohn Natl employee re

      The question is whether you can work? The next question is when (what date) does your employer expect you to return. Then return on your due date and see what the employer can do for you and what you can do for the employer.

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