“If my boss is hostile and my job is making me sick, can I resign and collect unemployment?”

Question: I’ve worked for a small roofing company for five years. When I started, there were five employees, and I was an administrative assistant. Since then, everyone besides me (and the owner) has been fired or left in disgust. I now do everything in the whole business, including janitorial work and office cleaning.

My boss is so hostile that my life is hell. He yells constantly, and humiliates me every time I make any mistake. He even screams at me when he makes a mistake. Because he has so many driving tickets, he had to attend driving school; he made me attend for him, and take the test for him, too. I shake all day, have anxiety attacks, and can’t sleep at night. I want to quit, but I fear the loss of income.

Can I quit and still collect unemployment insurance?

Stressed Out
Petaluma, California

Answer: Like most states, California denies unemployment benefits to employees who quit their jobs, BUT provides unemployment benefits to employees who quit their jobs for “good cause.”

The California Unemployment Appeals Board has defined “good cause” as “a real, substantial, and compelling reason of such nature as would cause a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment to take similar action.”

While ordinary nastiness is insufficient to constitute “good cause,” the level of hostility you describe seems to me to qualify as “good cause.” I am certain that your boss forcing you to take his driving test for him – which is probably illegal – is surely “good cause,” although I am concerned that, if you report this, you could be criminally prosecuted.

While I cannot guarantee you anything, I do think (a) your health has to be your first priority, and (b) you seem to have a good chance of collecting unemployment insurance. Please consider seeking other employment, as well.

If you are interested, we offer a Model Involuntary Resignation Letter on the Model Letters section of our blogsite, that you can adapt to use for your own letter. To obtain a copy, simply [click here].

You’re in a tough spot. I wish you courage, better health, and, of course, good luck.

Al Sklover

P.S.: 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!

© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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