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Need to prove I had good cause to quit so I can collect unemployment.

by C.L.

I have been working with this company for a few years. I love what I do, but someone there has made it increasingly hard for me to feel safe and comfortable at work. They made a comment in front of others about my personal life that was completely out of line. I tried to pretend it didn't bother me, but I decided after a few days that I would report it. Within these few days, I caught this person whispering behind my back, bullying me, isolating me (by talking to everyone around me enthusiastically and cheerfully, but ignoring me completely) and spreading rumors that I was doing things that were not true. I was fed up with it so I went to HR to report it. It was hard for me to do, but it had become unbearable in the office.

HR told me they would take care of it. They tried to make me feel comfortable and said that her comment would not be tolerated. She said that she would like to see this person written up for this. I tried to tell her my main concern is to feel like I can come to work and not be harrased like this or offended by her behavior. She told me they would completely protect me. She said that no one would know I went to her office except my manager and his supervisor. She said that the particular person who offended me would not know that I had said anything, they would do some behavior modification and work on training our office on professionalism. She told me to keep her updated on how things were going.

I felt relieved. I trusted her.

Two weeks later, my manager tells me that he spoke with this person about making harsh comments. He asked how I was doing and I told him I was anxious to hear from HR. The day after that, he pulled the person who made the harrassing comment into his office and an hour later, mad as ever at me. Whatever happened in that office made things worse. She was blatantly rude to me. When I needed some information from her that was work related, she ignored me all day until I had to research it myself because she refused to acknowledge me.

I wrote a short email to HR explaining that things were still bad. I told her I anxiously awaited her training or ideas on how to make things better. Two days later she wrote back saying she was working on it and would get with me in a few days.

day came. My manager's supervisor called both of us into his office and told us we were both being written up. He said we both thought we were victims but we were both in fact perpetrators. I was floored. I asked what I did wrong. He said that he couldn't answer that for me. He said he has done a large investigation and talked to several people and that was his conclusion. The write up said that we both had acted unprofessionally and needed to shape up or we'd be terminated. When we started to talk for the first time about the things we were upset about, and started to actually make head way, he cut us off and said he didn't want us to resolve it. If we wanted to, we would need to do that on our own time. He was not there to mediate or counsel us. He said we just needed to get over it. He said he was pissed that he was even down here having to deal with this situation (which makes me feel like I'm being retaliated against for putting him out) and he said he hoped he never had to be here again, if he did have to one of us would just be fired. How's that for an HR "open door, no retaliation policy".

I feel like in this economy, with a recent accross the board 10% pay cut, they are trying to cover they're behinds in case they let me go. They don't want to have to grant me unemployment and they are afraid I may quit and because I said I didn't feel safe at work, which would be a qualifying reason.

The problem is, I didn't do ANYTHING to justify a write up! I feel like they completely handled a serious and personal harrassment claim in a wildly inappropriate way.

Things are worse than ever because the other person made up a whole bunch of heresay to report because somehow she found out I made a claim (she had to of) and for the last few days leading up to the meeting, she was feeding them "dirt" on me that wasn't even valid or true! What kind of fair and private investigation into a harrassment claim is that?!

I feel retaliated against for going to HR.

Do you think that I have good cause to quit? Because of all this, I feel SO uncomfortable at work. I dont feel like anyone is helping me make it better and if I ask for help again, I feel like I will be punished or fired!

Please help!

Comments for Need to prove I had good cause to quit so I can collect unemployment.

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Nov 20, 2011
I can't give you permission to quit, but I do encourage people to get a little backbone to make a decision about quitting.
by: Chris

Hi Nancy,

I cannot .. give anyone permission to quit their job with an assurance they have sufficient documentation proving not only good cause to quit, but that they also exhausted all efforts to preserve the employment.

For what it's worth .. it's the efforts to preserve that are open to interpretation under a very arbitrary thing in the law they call the "reasonable person standard".

However, I will tell you if it were me .. and I had to continue defending myself at work because my employer just kept on creating new scenarios to harass me about .. and I was getting sicker because of it .. I would be escalating the the whole mess to an official EEOC complaint and documenting every questionable exchange I had with the employer .. for use in creating a record for the UI dept to make the determination on.

I'd consider an EEOC complaint as my last ditch effort to give the employer the opportunity to make a real effort to help me preserve the employment I was desirous to retain .. and if or when push came to shove because they again tried to set me up, I'd say to hell with my fear of quitting without total assurance that I could get unemployment as I would personally rather live in a tent down on Wall Street than be treated like a piece of chattel.

Contrary to HR propaganda, in reality .. your employer is probably trying to force you into quitting .. because they don't want the burden of proof (they probably know their burden would suck to sustain) and their experiences tell them that most people they force into quitting .. rarely sustain their burden of proof of good cause .. usually because they don't argue the point effectively or understand that appeal hearings are really just informal little mini trials.

Frankly, I can't help you with your issue of indecision (and unemployment benefits is really all about the reasonable choices made by employees and employers.)

But, if it were me, I'd be reading the info about the different types of employee discrimination that can occur.

Additionally, because I was still employed, I would consider drawing that line of an official complaint now because I was still an employee. Any further crap from them could only assist me .. because I would just keep on documenting to prove retaliation.

You need to understand whether those threats and guilt trips your employer is laying on you have any credibility or whether they are just strategies to get you to react by walking off the job in a huff.

I do understand your fear Nancy. It's responsible employees that have a tougher time making the choice to let go. It's well founded, but it is the problem too when someone is only willing to make it based upon UI benefits being received.

That just isn't how it works .. you just have to do everything possible while an employee to make sure that horse is hitched to the front of the buggy.

Nov 20, 2011
Scared to Quit
by: Nancy

I am currently in a very smilar situation and I am scared to quit because I cannot afford to live without some income. I am regularly targeted at work for various things that they may seem is wrong that I have done. Twice now I have proved to them that the thigs they were "yelling" at me for has not be a wrong doing and they continue to say that I need to be more professional and not argue with them to prove I am not doing anything wring. They phrase it every time defending yourself right now borders insubornation and it will not be tollerated. I have ben told they were flexible with me so I could have a surgery and it is now my time to be flexible and I just can't emotionally take this anymore. I have documentation showing the attempts I have made to make things better, but it nly works for like 30 days and we are right back to where we getting YELLED at like I am 5! I just don't know if it is enough to prove the whole show cause thing for NYS laws. I am sick to my stomach every day going back there, and now I have such stress in my neck I can't move it. Please help me!

Jun 01, 2009
Thank you!
by: CL

Thank you so much for the information. That really helped me! I am thinking of writing a well thought response to the write up that includes my desire to really resolve the issue so I can feel comfortable in the work place. If things still don't progressively get better, I will quit and feel that I had no other choice.
Thanks again, that link was exactly what I was looking for!

Jun 01, 2009
Workplace harassment and collecting unemployment
by: Chris - webmaster:)

Hi C.L.

Good cause is the element that every person that quits a job must prove to receive unemployment benefits. But understanding how a state decides whether your unique situation has it .. is the problem.

Some states have decision digest which act as a guide, and although Utah's attempt at explaining how decisions are arrived at pales in comparison to some other states. The do have something as of April of 09. This page seems appropriate reading for you.

I truly hate to hear someone say "I love my job, but I can't continue due to a hostile work environment". I simply do not understand why people refuse to assert their rights in the workplace At the very least, the more you attempt to preserve or correct a bad work problem .. the more evidence you have to prove good cause which is evaluated on a case by case basis for unemployment benefits

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