Unemployment Compensation and Quitting Your Job – When is a Quit Not a Quit?
After an applicant for Unemployment Compensation (UC) Benefits is determined to be financially eligible for benefits, the next step is to determine whether the employee is eligible based on the facts of the separation as applied to the law. The UC service center will gather facts from the Claimant (Employee) and the Employer to determine the circumstances under which the employee left. Many times there is a conflict between whether the Employee quit or was fired. This distinction is important because if an Employee is fired the burden of proof to determine eligibility for UC benefits is on the employer who must establish that the employee engaged in “willful misconduct” under Section 402(e) of the UC law. If an Employee quits their job, the burden of proof to determine eligibility is on the employee who must establish that they left their job for a “necessitous and compelling reason” under Section 402(b) of the UC law. However, when it is not clear whether the Employee quit or was fired, usually an employer will assert that an Employee quit because that makes it harder for the employee to obtain UC benefits. The UC service center will have to pick one section of the law or the other and that decision can carry a great amount of weight if the decision is appealed to a Referee’s hearing. If you disagree with the decision of the UC service center as to whether you quit or were fired that must be clearly explained to the Referee at the hearing and you must present evidence to support that claim. You must also be able to question the employer about how they determined that your separation was a quit as opposed to a termination. For example, did the Employer obtain a resignation letter or was the resignation rescinded by the Employee. Sometimes, an Employee will quit in lieu of a discharge. The law states, however, that if an employee quits in lieu of an imminent discharge, that separation shall be considered a discharge and therefore it is the Employer’s burden to prove willful misconduct.
If you are unsure of whether your separation would be considered a quit or a discharge, you may want to speak to an experienced employment law attorney.