If I quit my job will I be able to collect unemployment?

I have been employed by this company for about 8 months now, I started as part-time but wound by being mandatory full-time because every one else quit. Everyone quit since our agreed upon commission went down 3 times in 2 months until everyone felt forced to quit, not to mention our work orders were serioously lacking and We only get about half of the mileage we record. now im the only one left and working twice as much for less than half of what i used to and what i was told i would make upon being hired. I’m wondering if I quit can I collect unemployment?

Asked on October 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You most likely will not be able to collect unemployment. The problem you face is that employment in this country is "employment at will": not only does that mean that employers can terminate you at will (which is what most people think about in connection with this legal principal), but also that the employee has no rights or guarantees at work--such as no right to or guaranty of a given wage or salary. Employers therefore have  the right to change employee compensation at will. This being the case, it is very difficult to make out a case that you were effectively (or "constructively") terminated by the employer doing what it has a legal right to do and making a change in something which you have no right to not have changed.
Sometimes you can prevail and get unemployment on this basis, but it's an uphill struggle due to the above--you essentially have to show that the decrease in wage was so unreasonable and so unconscionable that no one would work under those conditions. And making it worse is that in a commissioned (or part-commissioned job), variability in income due to the ebb and flow of sales is accepted as a given. To the extent the decrease in incomes is due to a reduction in work orders, that  would not support a claim of "constructive termination" or getting unemployment. 
So you can quit and apply for unemployment, but realistically, have a less-than 50-50 chance of gettting it. You are likely better off simply trying to find a new job as quickly as possible.


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