What if my doctor is telling me to quit my job for health reasons?
Since moving into my current position approximately two years ago, my health has not been so good. I am having a bone marrow biopsy this week in fact. My doctor says the stress I am under at work is making things worse. To top it off my current supervisor told me on June 17 that within six months I no longer have a viable position, nor a job! He has nearly ceased giving me work to do and/or communicating with me. I am a strong, dedicated employee and have been with this company for ten years. I spent a few weeks of difficult times through the late winter/early spring when undergoing medical procedures, but continued my work without delay. When he told me about the position being no longer viable within six months he said it has to do with changes within the department. I asked if it was my work performance or anything I have done and he said no it has nothing to do with that. Then, two weeks later I talked with the HR director who said that he told them it was my performance. I have never had a bad appraisal or even had any indication that my work was inadequate (if that's even what he is saying?, I don't know for sure). I've asked him again and he says it is because the job situation is changing. Well, behind the scenes I know that he is interviewing a much younger and better looking female for this position. Oh, I also said to him that I was not his high-quality of people that he's looking for or wants in this position, again he said that has nothing to do with it. So, coming to work every day is very difficult and makes it hard to look for employment elsewhere. My doctor says quitting could very well make my health improve? If I do quit will I be eligible for unemployment compensation while looking for another job? This is all so crazy!
I'm feeling for you .. because trying to get an answer to your questions can only add more stress.
So I'll just shoot as straight as I can.
Quitting almost always requires us to give the employer an opportunity to accommodate our needs or correct a situation. If we don't do this .. they protest our claim for unemployment by saying we failed to do just that. It is the exact opposite of the situation when we are fired. If an employer doesn't first warn us to correct some behavior they have a hard time winning .. and I might add that the offending behavior needs to rise to the statutory definition of misconduct too.
If you have "medical documentation" which advises that
you quit your stressful job to seek less stressful work you should be able to collect unemployment, but I always advise that a person be able to show the state some documentation of the efforts that were made to first preserve the employment .. such as discussions or written communications with the employer that show you sought other remedies prior to quitting.
A couple things that give me pause in your case are the fact that you didn't mention anything about FMLA or Short-term disability and this little statement "He has nearly ceased giving me work to do and/or communicating with me."
My first question is whether this is the employer's attempt to "reduce the stress". Because of my experience, I am always reverse engineering and asking questions that highlight possible arguments the other side might use .. so you can close the gaps in your own case.
Now I'd like to ask you this: If you have information that the employer is interviewing "younger" people for your job, have you considered the possibility that the employer may be flirting with "age discrimination"? Have you raised this issue with HR? And while I'm at it have you presented any documentation to HR that will have the effect of putting to rest the specter of being fired for "poor performance".
I think it sounds like they are bound and determined to get rid of you and are trying to do so by minimizing any liability they may have .. including unemployment.
Pam, some situations can be complicated .. not so much by the "true issues" at hand, but by the intentions of humans.
There are supervisors and manager out there tossing and turning at night with guilt over some of the things they have been told to do. These are the "behind the scene" things we suspect, but few employees cover themselves from. We fail to act early enough .. like when we first suspect.
Many employers don't like sick employees and look for ways to get rid of them with as little trouble and the least amount of liability as possible. It's an ugly fact of life, but a successful company always has their eye on the bottom line.
And just so you know .. quitting because an employer tells you that your position will not be viable in 6 months and you'll probably be out of a job .. is not good cause for quitting.
Indiana statute says this about quitting for health reasons: (2) An individual whose unemployment is the result of medically substantiated physical disability and who is involuntarily unemployed after having made reasonable efforts to maintain the employment relationship shall not be subject to disqualification under this section for such separation.
The EEOC says this about Age Discrimination.