“After I ‘involuntarily resigned’ under unfair circumstances, I was denied unemployment. Do I have any rights?”

Question: I am a nurse. For nine years I did just fine at the hospital where I work. Though I worked so very hard, and took care of my patients so very well, all I received was criticism, day in and day out. More and more, the hospital hired inexperienced nurses, who were not sufficiently trained. I spoke up about it, but that was just ignored. Finally, it got to me.

I sought mental health assistance twice. I also took a doctor-required leave of absence.

Finally, I could not take it, and “involuntarily resigned,” mentioning the bad ways I was being treated, and the harm it was doing to me.

I applied for unemployment, and was turned down. Do I have any legal rights?

         Warminster, Pennsylvania

Answer: Michele, it sounds to me like you were made sick, in fact disabled and unable to do your job, by the way you were treated. You do have legal rights, but it may require considerable effort and perseverance to gain the better treatment it sounds like you deserve. 

(a) First, you have a right to appeal the denial of unemployment benefits. You should contact your Pennsylvania Unemployment Office and do so as soon as possible, as there usually are strict deadlines for appealing a denial of unemployment benefits.
(b) Second, you have every legal right to write to the hospital’s Board of Directors or Board of Trustees, and tell them what happened to you, including your nine years of trouble-free service. Your letter should be sent by a “verifiable manner,” such as Certified Mail, Return Receipt, or FedEx or overnight UPS letter. Your letter should ask the hospital for either severance, or that they no longer fight your appeal for unemployment benefits.

In your letter, mention that the way you were treated (a) made you become sick, in fact, disabled, and (b) your being treated in a harassing, hostile manner, (c) which only made you worse. Mention, too, that you are seriously considering filing a complaint with Pennsylvania discrimination authorities over this, and that you would rather not have to do that.

(c) Third, if you are not given either severance, or a letter saying they won’t continue to fight your appeal for unemployment benefits, consider filing such a complaint, either by yourself, or with the help of any attorney.

There are so many, many ways in the law that people like yourself have available to them to help them stand up for and by themselves. These are the ways I suggest you consider, to your best ability.

Hope that helps, I really do. And I hope you get better soon, and find a job where you are truly appreciated. 

          Best, Al Sklover   

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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