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I work for a US (Maryland) company in Afghanistan as a contractor. I just can't handle the dirt I breathe anymore or the rotten living conditions. Can I quit and collect unemployment?

by Mark
(Kabul, Afghanistan)

Thank you for your help. I'm having a difficult time with this......

I work for a very good company in Maryland, nice people great boss and I make about 100K per year for working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

My position requires me to travel to Afghanistan for work 3 months in country, 1 month out of country - the time I'm out of country is also spent working as well. In country (Afghanistan) we work 7 days a week and don't observe holidays.

I have been doing this for over 1 year and knew what I was getting into before coming here.

Both my family and I simply can not tolerate this work anymore. Its so very tough to breathe this dust laden air and live in the poor working conditions that we have to. I know the military has to - and yes - I have been in the military - 25 years of active duty, and retired from the military - 16 years in the Middle East.

The absences have become extremely tough and I miss my wife and family so much that it hurts, causing the two of us to be depressed most of the time. Sometimes I just feel like leaving and saying the heck with it.

I can't afford to just walk away and would need the unemployment benefits (in my working career - since 15 years old to now - 55 years old - I have never, ever been unemployed or collected unemployment.

My basic question is - can I quit and collect unemployment?

Thank you for you help

Hi Mark,

You know, while reading your story it dawned on me .. that were all grateful to those in the military that serve our country, but we tend to forget or I do anyway, that there are a lot of civilians that serve our country too in the middle east right now .. so .. Thank you!!

Well, I guess I need to ask some questions. Just a shot in the dark, but when you took the job .. did you sign an "employment contract". It seems that this type of job might have specific conditions of employment. If so, that would be the first place I would look
for a way out.

I think I also need to ask if Maryland is the state you are a resident of.

Decisions as to whether you or anyone, can collect unemployment are never based of past work history .. only the reason for separation from the most recent work.

The decision is supposed to always be based on the law, and how any particular state interprets their law through precedents. All they care about is "just the facts ma'am". You remember Jack Webb, don't you? Very dispassionate.

Generally, when someone wants to quit due to the conditions of the "work" there needs to be some substantial change in the conditions from the conditions that existed when you took the job. And they need to be attributable to the work .. vs. a personally compelling reason .. most times even in states that actually use those words.

Although you mentioned breathing the dust and depression .. you didn't mention any medical concerns that you have spoken to the employer about .. or even seeking a medical opinion about your health. I'm thinking this might possibly be a legitimate issue.

I can't tell you benefits would be possible if you just quit right now, but I can tell you what the USDOL says about Maryland's quit provisions as far as illness go.

MD law contains a three-part voluntary quit provision – good cause, without good cause, and without good cause but with valid
circumstances; quitting due to domestic violence, claimant’s illness, or illness in claimant’s family may be determined to be valid
circumstances and would result in a 5 to 10 week time delay penalty

I'm not certain, but the use of the words "time delay" indicate that a disqualification may not carry the usual additional monetary element of needing to earn X amount of your weekly benefit to purge the DQ.

That information might be further explained by checking over MD's Unemployment Decision Digest.

In fact, there is a lot of discussion in the above link which leads me to believe you might be able to make a case for benefits.

I'll be here if you need to ask questions or discuss this further.

Stay safe and again many Thanks to you and everyone over there.


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