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Does Illinois Recognize Constructive Discharge due to Extreme Change In Working Conditions?

by Aimee Ley
(Roselle, Illinois)

I ended up quitting my job of almost two years.

Less than two weeks after I was hired for customer service which was to entail: answering phones, entering orders and completing claims for customers......the employer started adding job duties....they kept coming and were not stopping.
-janitorial duties weekly
-warehouse production work
-assisting sales reps
-assisting accts receivable

Then the company started losing business and they let people go. I was given the work of a lady they let go in addition to all the above they kept adding.
I was having anxiety attacks and panicky crying spells in the car on the way to work almost daily. I was working an additional 10+ hours every week to stay on top of all this work which I was not paid for.

Then in the end of February of 2009 they called a meeting and told me and another girl Sherry that we would now also be assigned days in the warehouse every week on top of it all. We were also told some of our benefits were being taken away.
I sent my boss an email after the meeting offering that I would take a cut in hours so they could give this warehouse work to one of the CHEAPER temps they used to have come in. Cheaper by about $2 per hour. They ignored my suggestion. I did talk to both co-workers and supervisors about the work, my health and EVERYTHING but I was always just given reasons why they were that way and no offer of resolution or compromise was of any interest to them ever.

Can I win or at least have a chance of winning my upcoming appeal hearing claiming that it was constructive dismissal. I was forced by the employer's actions to quit? This whole thing was wretched and hurting my mental and physical health. I even had to go to the emergency room straight from work about 6 mos. earlier due to chest pains and extremely high blood pressure and ended up with over $8000.00 in medical bills!

Hi Aimee,

Yes of course!! It's called quitting due to intolerable working conditions, unreasonable change in the working conditions, unacceptable working conditions.

The strength of your case will lie in the testimony you give and any documentation you may possess which can show you first made efforts to preserve the employment prior to quitting .. not to mention the 10 hours a week you worked and were not being paid for (personally been there, done that).

The big thing I think many people have a hard time with is understanding that when you get to an unemployment appeal hearing the real details and facts are developed by a person skilled at getting to the crux of the matter and often times regardless of documentation a decision is based on who's testimony the ALJ finds to be more credible.

To prepare for an unemployment hearing can be difficult for a person because they aren't aware of the elements that an ALJ is looking for. The burden does not need to proven beyond a shadow of a doubt .. like in real court, but rather by a preponderance.

Your entire focus should be upon the ever increasing workload which took more and more time to do and the fact that the employer did not compensate you for that additional time. Your health issues are also relevant if the employer was made aware.

Your attempts to make the job a reasonable job are a good thing. ALJ's always want to know what a claimant did to try to preserve the employment. It's basic. It shows the employer was put on notice that things were getting out of hand and unreasonable.

This is exactly the reason most employer have handbooks. It lays out the rules and has a discipline policy so an employee knows what to expect, but this same book can be used by employees in the very same way because they also usually have rules and procedures for an employee complaint process.

Don't get too emotional, listen to the ALJ's instructions and tone. Be factual, and clear. Make a list of points you believe would be valid examples which will support your position and examples of the employers inaction.

I think you have a very good chance of winning, but I won't know unless you come on back and update us here with a comment.

Good Luck Aimee,


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