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Can I quit & receive unemployment if my job makes my anxiety and depression worse?

by Jimmy

(Please forgive me if this is too long):I've been on short-term disability from my job(started the job 2/18/08) since 2/23/09 due to a breakdown resulting from a couple of years of severe financial problems and the stress of my new job. My FMLA has run out, but they haven't laid me off.

I've had a history of anxiety and depression issues.
My job was a new position in Accounts Payable, to support the A/P Manager (just entering invoices & processing travel expense receipts, they said at the interview, nothing intense). It ended up within 3 months of hire in being a severely stressful job where I'm no longer an acctg. clerk but a T & E Accountant (I got a title change and I fought for a small salary increase). All I do is process travel receipts from employees (no entering of invoices), and found a lot of employees were stealing from the company. The company had no idea this was going on (they operate as if they are still in the 1940s or 50s--the technology and corporate structure is very dated-which allows for all kinds of infractions).
I told management several times that to process over 200 persons receipts each week, I couldn't do it on my own. The work load needs three people to handle properly, and my direct manager agrees (verbally), but they just aren't hiring. I've let my manager know repeatedly (verbally) that I can't handle all this work alone, that I was getting stressed out and burnt out. I've asked to be reassigned as well, to something less stressful, but no luck.
Anyway, the stress of the workload, coupled with my personal financial problems, resulted in a breakdown in Feb. I'm nowhere near being able to handle the stress of that job again yet.
My return to work date is 8/3. I'm terrified to go back to my job, afraid all the depression and anxiety will flow back and I'll be right back where I was last Feb. I'm not emotionally stable enough to look for
another job. I'm still depressed and working on lowering my level of anxiety.
I read that if a job increases the severity of a health issue, that an employee can quit and receive unemployment (with medical documentation). Is this true? If so, is it true for mental conditions? Could my therapist send them something stating that returning to that position would be harmful to me and that I am resigning? Or, if I have to return to that job in August and I become sick again, could I quit then and receive unemployment? I just don't know what to do. Thank you for reading this long post.

Hi Jimmy,

Yes it is possible to quit a job with "good cause" if advised to do so by written medical documentation. But the situation is usually usually dissected.

They'll want to know if you first sought remedy for the situation by asking to be transferred to a position that could eliminate the problem of the work that is aggravating a health condition .. in your case "stress". For almost every voluntary quit "connected to the work" an individual must give the employer opportunity to provide a solution to the problem and Pennsylvania will want to make sure you "exhausted" all other possible alternatives before you quit.

It would be best to have some type of documentation showing you have done this.

But you have a problem because of this: "I'm not emotionally stable enough to look for another job. I'm still depressed and working on lowering my level of anxiety."

That statement will disqualify you for benefits because a person must be able and available for work .. and actively seeking work. So even if you are found eligible for unemployment benefits because good cause is found for the voluntary quitting you will be disqualified because you are not able and available. You of course would be able to collect the benefits once you show the circumstances which prevented you from being able to work or even look for work have been removed.


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May 28, 2009
Thanks for the post
by: Jimmy

It looks like I'll have to go back there, when I'm able to work again, and formally make a documented requested to a less stressful position. Would I make this request to my manager or go right to HR?
The thing is, what if the position offered pays 30% less than I'm paid now? Does PA have guidelines regarding how much of a pay cut is too much to expect an employee to accept, thereby allowing them to quit for good cause (this time--due to a large pay decrease)?
Thanks for informing me that I won't be eligible for unemployment unless I'm able to work. It makes sense.

Hi Jimmy,

I'd make the request to HR, they usually control everything anyway.

I'm sure Pennsylvania does have "unemployment guidelines" concerning reductions in pay, but unfortunately the only place to search for unemployment decisions to my knowledge is here.

I know that Pennsylvania regularly gives unemployment to claimant's that provide medical documentation which restricts or limits the duties they may be assigned if the employer cannot accommodate the restrictions imposed, but I'm not so clear about what would happen if they offer a lower paying job to alleviate the stress. I'd think there might be an argument somewhere in all this that the stress was due to an unreasonable workload and the lower pay might be seen as discriminatory because you are a part of a "protected class".

I personally think you should ask a Pennsylvania employment attorney some questions because you are now part of a protected class. It's not just unemployment rules that would have an effect on your situation, but FMLA, ADA, civil rights, etc. I also don't think you necessarily need to wait until your FMLA is up to address the possibilities of the job you might return to.

You might want to read some of the articles on this website about employee rights and how to protect yourself.

May 28, 2009
Protected Class?
by: Jimmy

Thanks so much for your detailed reply.

I have a question:
What protected class do I belong to? I'm unsure of what you mean.

You are on leave for a medical condition that according to you was exacerbated by the stress level at work. You were on FMLA and although I'm not qualified to advise you on matter of "disabilities" some mental illnesses, can be considered a disability.

Go to that link I sent you to. Sign up for the "free email course" Tons of free information about the importance of being in a protected class.

Age, sex, religion, race, nationality, disabilities. It's important stuff to understand from the beginning of employment, so you can be aware early on if an employer might be trying some questionable tactics. Anyone who relies on HR or any other employer agent to let them know all their employee right .. is .. ahh .. well, insert your own word for gullible.

Aug 17, 2010
job stress
by: Anonymous

I have alot of stress at work as well, my boss is very nasty to me in front of people and says very mean things to me. she has done things in front of customers, i went to the doctor he put me on a few different meds. i cry every morning because i have to work under these conditions, its unfair and i dont feel that someone can treat you this way . What can be done about this ? Who do i direct this issue to seems like everyone is against me at work for some reason , like i am a target.i am very nervous have been throwing up , shaking, crying and all that . i cant take much more is there a way to stop this , what if i cant take it anymore and just resign then what?

Hi Anonymous,

Please use the submission form to ask you very own question and I'll tell you what I think you should do to stop this and why if you just resign your case will be treated just like anyone's who has quit without the ability to PROVE good cause.

Jan 18, 2011
I dnt know what to do.......
by: Anonymous

I have been at my job for over a year and everyday I cry... I hate it, the type of work can be stressful and deppressing but I know its affecting me personally... it has come to the point of suicidal thoughts and giving up on life itself.. I make really good money and have great benefits. I am a single mom and can not afford to be without any income... I dnt want to leave because of all the pros but hate to stay because of what its doing to me mentally and physically... I dnt want to keep taking time off to get fired but its really getting harder and harder for me to cope with my daily life.... I am currently waiting to see a new doctor but still a couple months for the appt and with all these meds I feel I'm losing myself. I truly believe its the job, this all jus came out of nowhere.. Also there isn't any other positions available to me. What should I do???????

Please, please, please if you want to address your own personal case .. ask your own question on this page and be certain to include the name of the state.

Or better still .. since you make good money .. contact me for a consultation so we can discuss the details.

My particular concern for you would be this statement .."I dnt want to keep taking time off to get fired but its really getting harder and harder for me to cope with my daily life."

That's not really how simple unemployment benefits work, anonymous.

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