What are my rights to collect unemployment benefits if I had to quit my job after repeated illnesses due to people coming to work sick?

Finally, contracted pneumonia and felt my health was in terrible danger. I almost died from the flu a few years ago. I’m appealing an unemployment denial. What are my chances of winning this case?

Asked on February 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You have a very small, if any chance, of winning. Start from the position that a voluntary termination of employment (quitting or resigning) almost always disqualifies you for unemployment. There are times that you can quit and still collect, but those are when the *employer* itself does something that makes the job untenable, such as relocating you to a location too far to reasonably commute. But that is not what you describe: you are talking about:
1) "people coming to work sick"--which even if they are coworkers, the *employer* is not liable for its employees being sick or choosing to not come to work;
2) you can't prove you got your illnesses from work and not from family, friends, while shopping, while commuting, etc.--so no causality can be proven;
3) It's a normal part of all employment (unless you work solely from home) to be exposed to illness--it's not an extraordinary event that you might be compensation for; and
4) most people don't quit jobs because they had an illness like pneumonia or the flu which was not the employer's fault, and it's generally considered reasonable to do this--that is your own choice, and whether it was right for you or not, it is purely your fault.
Quitting over fear of the flu, etc. is simply not something that entitles you to unemployment benefits.


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