In California, people who find themselves out of work for any reason will automatically rely on unemployment benefits to see them through until they find another job. However, receiving unemployment is not automatic in many cases. The Employment Development Department (EDD) is responsible for handling unemployment insurance claims.
People might not think they can receive unemployment benefits if they leave the job on their own without being terminated. However, the key factor in getting these benefits after quitting is having “good cause” to do so. This can also be the basis for a legal filing if the situation calls for it.
Understanding “good cause” and seeking unemployment benefits
After quitting, good cause will be a fundamental part of getting unemployment benefits. The EDD will want to know why the person quit. If a motivated employee who wanted to keep the job felt they had no choice but to leave due to a specific reason, it must be shown to the EDD.
The worker must have taken steps to try and preserve the relationship with the employer by, for example, actively seeking to address the issues that were causing the problem. If the worker was being harassed and then contacted human resources or others who were in a position of power to stop the harassment and it was not, this could be construed as good cause.
The EDD will look for three foundational factors in the person leaving the job: was it real, substantial and compelling? The problem must be shown to have existed in the first place, it must be compelling enough that the person was so disturbed by it that they could not stay in the job and it must be so stressful that a reasonable person who wants to work felt forced to leave.
For people with a good work history who lodged complaints about how they were treated on the job or because they were subjected to abuse, harassment, discrimination or other workplace violations and were not helped sufficiently, quitting could be viewed as their only option.
Having experienced help can be crucial with this type of employment case
Getting unemployment benefits after quitting voluntarily is one step. Considering legal options for the mistreatment that might have led the person to quit is another. The employer may dispute the claims the former employee made regarding their decision to quit.
The worker might want to consider an employment law claim in addition to seeking unemployment benefits. For these somewhat complex cases with narrow justifications to collect unemployment, it is important to have support in assessing the claim and moving forward.