Can I get unemployment if I quit my job?

I was hired as an office manager/accounting/operations. I was told that they were trying to let the accountant go down in hours and when that happened my pay would go up. I was unaware that the accountant would be so nasty and she was friends with the CEO/president. It had become a terrible position to be in. I was being told by my CEO that I was doing a great job and the like three weeks ago I was all of a sudden making all kinds of mistakes. I was then brought in to talk about all of it with human resources and the CEO. It was clear that I was going to be squeezed out. I was stressed and quit.

Asked on March 27, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In IL, as in most states, you can only get unemployment benefits if you quit your job for "good cause."  This means that you must have a very good reason why you left.  It must be: (1) serious enough to make a reasonable person in the same situation leave the job; and (2) must be based on something that the employer did (in most cases). 

Among reasons considered to be good cause for voluntarily leaving employment are:

  • Sexual harassment on the job
  • Change in working conditions that make the job unbearable
  • Abusive behavior on the job by coworkers or supervisors
  • Your boss breaks a law which affects you (for example: not paying you minimum wage)
  • A big cut in your hours, benefits, or pay rates
  • Your boss changes work shifts, causing child care or transportation problems

Reasons not considered to be for good cause are:

  • Can't find day care (unless it's your boss's fault)
  • Don't have transportation to work
  • Stress caused by the job, unless the employer made big changes to your work conditions
  • You didn't get a raise or promotion that was promised to you
  • You are not getting along with a co-worker
  • A small decrease in your hours, benefits, or pay rate

Based on the facts presented, you appear not to have good cause to have voluntarily terminated your work relationship.  Therefore, you will most probably be denied any unemployment claim that you file.  If you are still unsure as to your rights, contact the IL Department of Labor or see if you can arrange for a consultation with an employment law attorney.

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