What happens after I Involuntarily Resign? Archives

Any ways to get satisfaction after resigning?

Published on November 29th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: Four months ago, I involuntarily resigned from my former job because I was about to be terminated after a dishonest Performance Review. I felt that my manager and HR both schemed, by all of a sudden lowering my performance review, in order to lower the number of employees, without paying any severance. I even lost my quarterly commissions. It was literally making me sick, but I decided that resigning was safer and more principled thing to do. Since then, I have gotten a new job, but it pays $20,000 a year less.

What happened to me still bothers me. It wasn’t right, I saw no other way out, and I have the feeling, deep inside, that they “got away with it.” Is there anything I can do to get at least some kind of satisfaction?

Lansing, Michigan

Answer: Dear Terri: This is not the first time I’ve received almost this exact question. No doubt a lot of people have felt the way you feel. There are several possible paths to “satisfaction,” depending on what “satisfaction” means to you. Here are my thoughts:
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“Who is your next employer? – How should I respond?”

Published on February 23rd, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: Hi. I’m trying to find out how to respond to management and colleagues who ask where I’ll be working once I tender my resignation. Any ideas?

Pawling, New York

Answer: Dear Delia, Your question is a common one, and one you are wise to ask, as well:
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“My ‘Involuntary Resignation’ was not accepted as ‘involuntary.’ What do I do?”

Published on April 30th, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Hi, Alan,

I submitted my involuntary resignation by email giving detail as to what, why and how my job and the abuse I suffered affected me mentally and physically.

I later received an email from the HR department stating that it would not be considered an “involuntary” resignation because I wasn’t asked to resign. 

Is this true and how should this situation be approached?

Kansas City, Missouri

Answer: Dear Jess: Your question is a good one, and an especially welcome one because it gives me an opportunity to address this circumstance directly for, I believe, the first time.       

1. You know better than anyone else in the world whether or not your resignation was truly “voluntary” or “involuntary.” When an employee submits a resignation, as you did, that states that it is “involuntary,” that is a statement to your employer and to the rest of the world, that “I am leaving, but not on my own choice.” It is a statement, it is a position, it is a “stand,” and no one can say “You are wrong.” Sure, people can say, “I don’t agree,” or “I will not accept your stated reason,” but your statement “This resignation is involuntary” is, all by itself, a fact, and not one that can be changed.

As the old saying goes, “Everyone can have their own opinion. But no one is entitled to have their own reality.”

In your note to me, you indicated that your job made you suffer mentally and physically. I believe our society accepts that no employee can be forced to get sick, and that all employees have a right to leave such illness-producing situations. Your involuntary resignation letter is good, clear, and permanent evidence of “what, why and how” it all happened, is available as great evidence of your mindset and the circumstances at the time of your resignation, just in case you need it in the future, for various reasons which will be explained below.

2. Your employer has said, in effect, “I don’t accept your view, and I will not treat you differently than if you had resigned voluntarily.” No employee can reasonably expect their employer to agree with them in all circumstances. Nor can any employee reasonably expect their employer to do everything they wish their employer would do. In your case, at least at this time, your employer disagrees with your view, and is not prepared, apparently, to treat you as if your resignation is “involuntary.” That is not necessarily permanent, and is not a problem but more a challenge for you.

Let’s examine your employer’s reasoning, which is essentially “Unless we ask for your resignation, all other reasons in the world for leaving us – including if you feared for your life, feared for your safety, or feared for your health – is not sufficient for us.” Bottom line: between you and your employer we seem to have a disagreement, in which each “side” has a different view, based on different reasoning.

If you ask me, and I am a pretty reasonable person, I think “The job made me physically and emotionally ill” is a pretty strong reason to say you left “involuntarily.” In contrast, your employer’s view that “You cannot leave involuntarily unless we ask you to do so” is a very poor reason to deny what you say.  

With similar reasoning, imagine for the moment that your employer’s building was on fire, and you ran outside to save your health and life. It sounds like your employer would not consider your running out of the building to be “involuntary” unless they asked you to do so. That is non-sensical at best; dishonest at worst. Running to protect your health or save your life is not “voluntarily running.” 

3. By itself, whether your resignation is labeled “voluntary” or “involuntary” makes little difference; what is important are the possible consequences of that labeling. If  you think about it, your disagreeing with HR on this “labeling” point is not, in itself, of great importance. What may, though, be of great importance are the potential consequences to you of that labeling.

What “consequences” are these? They include (a) whether you will receive unemployment benefits; (b) whether your stock or stock options will continue to vest, or be forfeited; (c) whether or not you will receive deferred income or other employer benefit plans; (d) whether or not you will have to repay monies previously paid to you for such things as sign-on bonuses, educational outlays or relocation assistance; (e) whether or not you receive commissions on past sales; (f) whether or not any non-compete agreement you may have signed remains in effect or is voided; and (g) whether or not you are entitled to severance.

Now, those are pretty important, no?

4. Now here is the really important point: Whether or not your resignation was involuntary, and whether or not you will receive each of the valuable items listed as “a” through “g,” above may not, in the end, be decided by HR, or even your former employer, but instead by others who are independent of both sides, presumably reasonable and honest, and probably employees, themselves, for other companies. You can expect that your employer will not easily agree that you were treated unfairly or illegally. And you can bet that Human Resources will support your employer in this; hey, that’s their job. But, if you insist that you are correct, other people – not your Managers and not HR – will ultimately be the “deciders” on whether or not you receive the valuable items listed above as items “a” through “g.”  

And it is that fear – that “others” may, in the end, make that decision – is what most commonly gets employers to change their minds about how to treat involuntary “resigners” like yourself.

5. Who are these “other people” whose opinions really count on “Did he leave voluntarily or involuntarily?” Who are these “presumably disinterested and honest” people whose view of “what, when and how” you resigned really counts? Who are these people who are really more important in this situation than anyone else? 

They are “outsiders” who can tell your employer what to do, and whether to give you those items listed as “a” through “g,” and who your employer actually fears, including among them: (i) your employer’s Board of Directors; (ii) appropriate administrative agencies, both state and federal, who regulate and enforce laws regarding discrimination, retaliation, wages due, safety, pensions, harassment and other illegal acts at work; (iii) applicable regulatory and licensing agencies and authorities who require and impose a level of honesty and integrity of conduct in such fields as medicine, law, insurance, investments, charities, and the like, and last but not least, but only if necessary; (iv) members of a Jury that is comprised of your “neighbors,” that is, people as reasonable and as honest as you are – the vast majority of which have been or are employees, themselves.    

6. So, your next step is to not accept “No” for an answer, and write back – not to HR – but to a member of senior-most management about your surely “involuntary” resignation, what happened, and most importantly, what you want and expect him or her to direct HR to do to solve the problems caused. The first purpose of an involuntary resignation is to (a) give notice that your leaving is surely not voluntary. The second purpose of an involuntary resignation is to (b) insist that you now be treated in all ways as if terminated without cause, at the very least, and hopefully with compensation for your damages. In your case, purpose “a” has been accomplished, and now you need to keep trying to accomplish your purpose “b.”

The next step is to write a follow-letter to a member (or two) of senior-most management and (a) remind them of your truly “involuntary” departure and its reasons, (b) advise them that the response to date has been unacceptable to you, (c) notify them of the treatment you should be given referring to the items “a” through “g” in section “3” above that are applicable to you, and (d) put them on notice that, unless this is resolved to all parties’ satisfaction you will have no choice but to take the next steps by contacting those people labeled “i” through “iv” in section “5,” above. 

Fortunately, we offer a Model Letter entitled “Follow-Up Letter to Involuntary Resignation” that is meant to be used in these circumstances, and that is a really good model of what your own follow-up letter should include and sound like. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy to adapt for your own use, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

Jess, I recognize that this might very well seem like an awful lot of work. It is not a two-minute job, that is for sure. But, fortunately you can do this for yourself and have every chance of being successful if you try, and no downside risk if you do. And, if you try, you will never have to say to yourself “I wonder what would have happened if I did try.”    

We also offer a Model Letter for use by former employees to collect commissions, wages or other monies owed by their former employers. “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy you can adapt to your own facts and circumstances, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly! 

I know this answer to your question was a bit wordy, but your question and the potential value of involuntary resignations to many people made writing it entirely worth it. With these things in mind, I hope you are successful in your pursuit of your goals, and in finding new, healthy and productive employment. 

If this was helpful, I’d very much appreciate it if you would tell your family, friends, and colleagues about our blogsite and all it has to offer.   

My Best to You,
Al Sklover

P.S.: If you would like to obtain a list of five or more experienced, “employee-side” employment attorneys in the Kansas City area, just [click here]. Delivered by Email – Instantly!

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Insulted, overworked, and benefits taken away– can I get unemployment?”

Published on December 4th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Question: The owner of the company I work for over the past 3 years has started to insult my intelligence verbally. And he has added literally 5 peoples’ jobs (from people he has fired) at a savings to him of about $300,000. He has put their responsibilities on me, without a raise in pay. Of course, I still have my other full-time responsibilities. 

When I was hired I had health benefits offered by the company which the company stopped paying benefits for, and all employees found out only by a letter from our former insurance company. 

I have never quit a job before and have a solid 12-year resume with no holes as far as history goes. How can I transition out quickly, and collect unemployment benefits? 


Oakland, California

Answer: Dear Michael: Your situation is a common one these days. People often find themselves “between a rock and a hard place,” that is, (a) their working conditions are intolerable, but (b) they need income, and they are afraid that leaving their jobs will result in their being denied unemployment benefits. What can be done? As always, you are best served by both (a) knowing the “rules,” and (b) “working within the rules.” Here are my thoughts: 

1. You probably are aware of the “general rule”: You are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you “voluntarily” resign from a job. Almost all states in the U.S., and all other countries, too, follow this general rule. Thus, unemployment benefits are reserved for people who have lost their jobs, due to no fault of their own, and not available to those who simply do not want to work, or find it inconvenient to do so. Note, though, the use of the word  “voluntarily,” because it is the operative word in this discussion. The fact is that many people resign and leave their jobs “involuntarily,” and many of them qualify and receive unemployment benefits.   

2. The exception to this “general rule” is this: If you were treated so badly that you really had no choice but to “involuntarily” resign, then you are generally considered eligible to receive unemployment benefits. That word “voluntarily” is the key to someone in your circumstances receiving unemployment benefits. If, for example, an employee was being so severely sexually harassed that he or she reasonably believed that a rape was imminent, then that would quite certainly make that employee eligible to receive unemployment benefits, even if he or she resigned. Likewise, if an employer required an employee to engage in illegal conduct, such as stealing money from customers, that too would probably make the employee eligible to receive unemployment benefits, even if he or she had resigned. The question is this: are the facts, events and circumstances of your treatment so compelling to justify your leaving your job, even if it is, at least technically, still available to you?  

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Clear the haze, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

3. California State law has two requirements before a resigning employee is deemed eligible for unemployment benefits: (a) only if there was “good cause” for his or her resigning AND (b) also, if the employee made all reasonable attempts to solve the “good cause” problem. “Good cause” for leaving is defined in California law as “when a substantial motivating factor in causing the [employee] to leave work  . . .  is real, substantial and compelling and would cause a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment to leave work under the same circumstances.” In addition, the leaving employee must also try to resolve or ameliorate the “good cause” problem, and be prepared to show he or she did so. As you might imagine, the facts, events and circumstances of each person’s situation are unique, and must be explored. Just one fact – such as a threat of violence or an unwanted touching of the body – can make the difference.  

4. To be considered “good cause” for leaving in California, the reason for leaving must be “compelling to a reasonable person.” Compelling means that the employee’s reasons for quitting exerted so much pressure that it would have been unreasonable to expect him or her to remain with the employment. The “pressures” exerted upon the person may be (a) physical (as with health), (b) moral, (c) legal, (d) domestic, (e) economic, or otherwise. The question is this: “Would that reason cause a reasonable person, who was genuinely desirous of working, to leave work under the same circumstances?” This is what us lawyers refer to as a “reasonable person” standard.         

Incidentally, an employee can have more than one “compelling reason” to leave a job. 

5. Are your reason(s) for wanting to leave “compelling to a reasonable person?” Frankly, from your brief description of your situation I really can’t tell if your reasons are “compelling to a reasonable person.” If you were a client of mine, these are some of the questions I would ask you before I counseled you as to which path to follow:  

(i) Are the verbal insults to your intelligence: (a) causing you ulcers? (b) making you afraid for your safety? (c) perhaps so often and humiliating that you are becoming seriously depressed? (d) being made in the presence of your clients, colleagues or even family?  

(ii) Are the number of hours you are being forced to work: (a) an extra two hours a week? (b) an extra 20 hours a week? (c) an extra 50 hours a week? (d) seven days a week?  

(iii) Was the loss of health insurance benefits (a) retroactive? (b) the cause of your not being able to get medical care or medications without notice? (c) in violation of any agreement or law? (d) harmful to your children? (e) make it impossible to treat a current illness? 

(iv) Have other employees left their jobs for the same compelling reason(s)?

(v) Are there any other reasons you feel you must leave, including matters of (a) ethics, (b) emotional problems, (c) medical reasons, (d) family problems, (e) immorality, or (f) violations of law? 

For many people, it’s a great idea to ask your former employer not to oppose your Unemployment Benefits applications, and to give them great reasons why not to do that. Use our “Model Letter Requesting Employer’s Assurance Not to Contest Your Unemployment Application” with Ten Great Reasons. “What to Say, How to Say It.”™ To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

6. Also, notice that California law provides that you must be able to show that you tried to solve or ameliorate the “compelling reason” to leave. In my experience, California is unusual in its requirement that the departing employee must not only have “good cause” to leave, but also must have tried to solve, get around, or in some way address the problem(s) he or she faced. Thus, it would be smart of you to send one or more emails to your employer (a) explaining the problems you face in how you are being treated, and (b) requesting a cessation or lessening of that problem. If he or she does not respond, or responds in anger, or fires you for making the respectful request, that could only help you in gaining unemployment benefits.   

7. Consider the potentially great value to you of our concept of “Involuntary Resignation.” We have invented and championed the concept of “involuntary resignation,” which is just what you may need to satisfy the requirement of the California law on eligibility for unemployment benefits. The concept is this: when you resign, make sure it is (a) in writing, (b) by email, and shows both (c) your “compelling reason” for leaving, and (d) your unsuccessful attempts to solve the problem. This may help you in two distinct ways: First, (i) it may convince your employer that your reasons for leaving are such that he or she would rather not contest your application for unemployment. Second, (ii) if your application for unemployment is either questioned by unemployment officials, or contested by your employer, you have a neat “package of evidence” supporting you with just what you need to prevail. 

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Involuntary Resignation: Standing Up, Not Giving Up, When You Resign.” To do so, just [click here.]  

8. We also offer an “Involuntary Resignation” Model Letter you can obtain and use to adapt to your own facts, events and circumstances. On the “Model Letters” section of our blogsite, we offer a Model Letter you can use for just this purpose, although because you are in California, you may want to supplement it with your unsuccessful efforts to address your “compelling reason” to leave. To obtain a copy, just [click here.] It is one of our most popular Model Letters.  

Michael, there is no doubt that you are in a difficult situation. If it is so difficult to live with that you have written to me, my guess is that there are more facts, events and circumstances that you have not shared that could quite easily constitute “compelling reason to a reasonable person to leave.” While there is no guarantee that an “Involuntary Resignation” will gain you eligibility for unemployment benefits, there is one guarantee you can count on: it can only help. And helping you is what I sincerely hope I have done in this answer.

My best to you,
Al Sklover

P.S. One of our most popular “Ultimate Packages” of forms, letters and checklists is entitled “Ultimate Resignation Package” consisting of two Model Resignation Letters, a Model Involuntary Resignation Letter, a Memo to HR Pre-Exit Interview, and our 100-Point Pre-Resignation Checklist. To obtain a complete set, just [click here.] 

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Resigned due to stress, overwork and burn out. Can I get unemployment?”

Published on August 10th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I am a 7-year employee who has never gotten into trouble. I put in my resignation due to stress, being overburdened with more tasks than anyone could accomplish, having to teach new employees and, at the same time, take care of patients.

After I left, they hired three people to do my job, and that does not count the HR Director, who is now doing the training part.

I was burnt out and overworked. Can I get unemployment?

Avon, Indiana

Answer: Dear KZ: Your question is very, very common, and more and more common every day. As noted below, you won’t know if you are eligible for unemployment benefits unless and until you apply:  

1. Your state, Indiana, follows the general rule: whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits depends on why you are unemployed. On the one hand, your employment might have been terminated at the decision of your employer. If your employer terminated your employment “without cause,” meaning for such reasons as layoff, plant closing, job elimination, restructuring or the like, then you are eligible for unemployment benefits. If your employer terminated your employment “for cause,” meaning that you engaged in bad conduct (such as theft, assault, tardiness, insubordination, etc.) then you are ineligible.

On the other hand, you might have been the one who made the decision to terminate the relation. In fact, this is what you describe as having happened. If you resigned “without good cause,” that is just because you wanted to pursue a hobby, or to return to school, or to retire, then you are ineligible for unemployment benefits. If you resigned “with good cause,” that would make you eligible.

2. Here are the reasons that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development cites as “good cause” to leave your job and still be eligible for unemployment benefits: (a) if your employer unreasonably changes the terms and conditions of your work; (b) if there are safety violations at your work site; (c) if you have been the subject of harassment; (d) due to domestic or family violence; (e) if you are moving to follow your spouse who has been relocated by his or her employer; (f) military service; or (g) other such reasons of a similar nature.

3. Whether your facts and circumstances are considered “good cause” for your resignation will be determined on how well you describe the difficulties you encountered on the job. In your note to me, you said you were “overworked.” Does this mean an extra 30 minutes a day, or an extra 3 hours a day? Did it risk harm to your patients? Did it risk harm to your health? In your note to me, you described stress. Did it affect your sleep, your digestion, your vision, your blood pressure? If you include these kinds of details, and graphic images of what happened, you will be far more likely to be given unemployment benefits. The words “stress” and “overworked” are not near as powerful as the specific details you might provide.

The inability to assist patients the way patients are entitled to be treated may, in fact, constitute a “safety violation,” which is a listed “good cause” for resignation. The same thing would probably go for any danger to your own health – for example, not providing you with clothing or masks necessary to protect your own health – that took place.

As I often say, “Specificity yields credibility, and credibility means convincing.”

4. Also, it would help if you described the reasonable efforts you may have used to address the situation, in case your employer claims “She never complained to us.” Unemployment officials are far more likely to help others if they see that the others have first tried to help themselves. That is just human nature. Your note to me did not describe any such efforts, but something tells me that you did, in fact, try really hard before resigning to resolve the situation. Make sure you bring these to the attention of those who may review your application for unemployment benefits.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Eliminate the confusion, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

5. It is for people like you, in situations like yours, that we strongly suggest our own invention called the “Involuntary Resignation.” Imagine, for the moment, that in your resignation letter you said “I am not resigning voluntarily, but I must do so (a) for my health, or (b) for safety reasons, or (c) because I am being terribly harassed, or (d) you have unreasonably altered my hours, pay and duties.” That would be very helpful to you when applying for unemployment benefits right now. In fact, that is really what did happen to you: your resignation was far from voluntary. 

It might be helpful, for the future, to become familiar with the Involuntary Resignation concept. I wrote a newsletter on this very topic some time ago entitled “Involuntary Resignation – Standing Up, Not Giving Up, to an Intolerable Situation at Work.” You can read it by simply [click here.]

I’ve also done a YouTube video on this same subject, entitled “Involuntary Termination: Leaving Without Losing.” If interested in viewing it [click here.]

For those who would like to present an Involuntary Resignation, but don’t know “What to Say and How to Say It,™” we offer a “Model Involuntary Resignation” letter that you can use. To obtain a copy – Delivered Instantly by Email – just [click here.] “What to Say and How to  Say It”™ 24 Hours a Day.

6. More information about unemployment benefits and eligibility in Indiana can be found at www.in.gov/dwd/files/Claimant_Handbook.pdf. I have reviewed the website of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and have found it to be unusually helpful, clear and organized. Why don’t you give it a look-over.  

KZ, as I said at the beginning of this answer, you won’t know if you are eligible for unemployment benefits until you apply. Even if you are turned down, I suggest you should appeal. But one thing is for sure: give it your best try, and be your own best advocate. Be specific, be thorough, and be convincing. That’s the way to do it. 

Very Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Looking for a New Job? We offer a 152-Point Master Checklist of Employment Negotiation Items to help you make sure you have not (a) forgotten to ask for anything, (b) failed to raise any issues, and (c) that your interests are protected in your offer letter and/or employment contract. To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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