Can You Collect Unemployment in Maryland if You Quit Due to Emotional Distress?

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Emotional distress at work is a valid reason to look for other employment, but leaving your job voluntarily typically results in a loss of Maryland unemployment benefits. However, the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation makes exceptions if you can prove that emotional distress occurred and was the prime cause for you leaving your job.

Quitting Disqualification

The Maryland unemployment benefit program is based on the premise that you are unemployed through no fault of your own. Therefore, the Maryland unemployment insurance code disqualifies claims if you contributed to your job separation, including by quitting. The only exceptions are conditions where you left a job with just cause.

Emotional Distress as Just Cause

In unemployment cases, "just cause" for a voluntary separation is a reason you can attribute to the employer’s actions. If your employer or supervisors were harassing you or creating a hostile work environment, you can claim emotional distress. It might also be just cause if the emotional distress came from fellow coworkers and was acknowledged by your employer, who didn’t take steps to end it.

Proving It

As the party who imitated the job separation, the DLLR places the burden of proving the just cause in your separation. During the investigation of your claim and the appeal hearing, if it gets that far, you can show the DLLR evidence of the emotional distress. Photographic or written documentation of the actions that caused the emotional stress are good. If you have written correspondence from your employer or supervisors acknowledging the emotional distress, you can present that. If you sought out therapy or psychiatric help, you can use a statement from your doctor to demonstrate the effects of the distress. You can also use notarized statements from witnesses who saw the cause and effect of your emotional distress.

If You Can’t Prove Your Case

If you can’t prove your case to the satisfaction of the DLLR, you lose your unemployment claim. You'll either be barred from trying to apply to the unemployment program for five to 10 weeks after your voluntary job separation or until you earn 15 times your weekly benefit amount from work covered under the unemployment code.

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