Claiming unemployment benefits after quitting a job due to unfair treatment may be a challenge, because employees’ ideas of unfair treatment may not measure up to standards that labor departments see as a good reason for quitting a job. Chances for qualifying for benefits increase if employees can show unfair treatment by their employer, which violated state and federal laws.
An accusation of unfair treatment may not justify an unemployment claim, unless you can show the unfairness rose to the level of an employment contract violation, discrimination, sexual harassment or some other abuse of authority that violates employment laws. The Legal Aid Society, or LAS, in California acknowledges that it’s not always easy to distinguish between an employee’s job dissatisfaction and discrimination, or other illegal behavior, on the part of an employer. In any case, the organization recommends documenting specific incidents of such behavior, which may help you qualify for unemployment benefits if you quit your job.
Your state labor department may not approve a claim for unemployment benefits if you don’t try to fix the problem before quitting. The California LAS indicates that employees in the state must issue a workplace complaint about unfair treatment and give employers the opportunity to fix the problem if they intend to claim unemployment benefits after they quit. Workers who can’t show they made a significant effort to resolve the problem may not be eligible for unemployment compensation.
Mishandling the process for complaining about unfair treatment at work also could cause a labor department to deny your unemployment claim. For instance, the California Legal Aid Society indicates that a labor union member who files a grievance with the union about an employer’s unfair treatment also needs to complete the complaint process required by the employer before quitting. A labor department could deny a worker’s unemployment benefits claim if an employer can show the worker didn’t follow corporate instructions for issuing a workplace complaint.
Think twice about quitting a job due to unfair treatment, especially if you don’t have another job offer. There’s a high possibility that your state’s labor department won’t see less serious workplace infractions the way you do. For example, Maryland’s guidelines on unemployment benefit appeals note that some unfairness is part of everyday life, so each instance of unfair treatment in the workplace won’t be cause for quitting a job and claiming unemployment benefits.