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No Unemployment Benefits if You Quit for Being Yelled At by Your Boss!

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2015 | Firm News |

We’ve all been there!  Dealing with the office bully, who may happen to be your boss, is no easy task.  But before you quit, consider this case.  An attorney, Ann Dooley, worked for a large firm.  She was publicly berated and humiliated by a partner when she sought the assistance of another attorney in a large class-action case she was working on.  For those of us who have worked in law firms, this is par for the course.  However, Ann wasn’t going to take it.  She quit and then applied for unemployment benefits. The Unemployment Compensation Board of New Jersey denied her benefits at several levels of appeals.  The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed, finding that she had voluntarily quit without good justification, and hence, wasn’t entitled to receive benefits. The take away:  The Court held that “sensitivity to criticism” was not good cause to quit a job and receive unemployment benefits.  The Supreme Court of New Jersey and the Unemployment Compensation Board applied the same legal standard as applied in constructive discharge cases, i.e. that the work situation was so terrible and so unreasonable that the employee was left with no choice but to leave.  The standard is an objective one, i.e. asking whether a reasonable person would have been forced to  leave, not whether this particular employee was forced to leave.  I once won an Unemployment Compensation appeal where my client testified that the reason she left her job was because her supervisor was having sex on her desk and that after she complained about this to management, she also discovered that someone was urinating on her desk.  Now, thats good cause and she was awarded unemployment benefits.  So unless you have such an offensive work environment,  are suffering such egregious workplace harassment, don’t quit and expect to receive jobless benefits.