Can I apply for unemployment if resigned because my employer would not accommodate my pregnancy but could have?

My job required constant travel – driving and/or flying 4-5 days a week. Up until last week, we were allowed days during the week in which to travel to and from locations. They took away those travel days. I explained that because I was pregnant I would not be able to work the new schedule. I applied for a different position within the company and was denied. I was basically told I had to work the schedule the way it was or resign, so I resigned. Do I have a claim for unemployment?

Asked on February 28, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with an employment law attorney--you *may* have a legal claim.  The law prohibits discriminating against women in employment due to pregnancy. At the same time, though, a pregnant woman must be able to do her job, and the employer does not need to find or create a new job for her. So the critical issue may be whether the change in schedule was a general or global one (e.g. affecting all employees) or was made for some neutral business reasons--or whether it was a veiled attempt to force you out or "penalize" you for being pregnant. If it was the latter, then it may be illegal and you may have a claim. Therefore, you should consult with an employment law attorney, who can evalute whether you have a legal claim against the employer.

As for unemployment--you probably do not have a claim for unemployment. Unemployment compensation is unavailable when someone voluntarily leaves employment, even for good reasons. You can try applying, and as long as you are fully honest, should not face any penalty, even if the claim is rejected. However, the likely unavailability of unemployment insurance is a reason to see if you may have a  legal claim against your employer.


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