Unemployment for voluntarily quitting

If my position is paid less than the lowest average salary on multiple sites; the amount of work is equivalent to 3 jobs because the won’t hire anyone. I’m salaried and expected to work from my personal phone and computer while at home during nights and weekends, yet have a schedule of 8:30 to 5:00. If I am late they deduct pay, they took away the yearly cost of living bonus in exchange for 401k but then never gave us the 401k, denied my bereavement leave even though our handbook states that I am entitled to 3 days paid, and refuse to give me any form of raise until I take on even more work. Would I be able to quit and still get unemployment?

Asked on June 5, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you would not be able to receive unemployment benefits for quitting. It doesn't matter if your job is awful or low paid, or you are working too hard--a voluntary separation from employment (quitting or resigning) denies you unemployment benefits and, after all, people tend to not quit good, high paying jobs where they don't have to work too hard...it is precisely the awful jobs, where your pay doesn't make up for conditions, that people quit. If you could get unemployment for quitting bad jobs, anyone could get unemployment when they quit--but that is not the law. The bar againt receiving unemployment benefits when you quit or resign has no exception for quitting a very bad situation.
However, you may have a claim for back compensation: if they deduct pay when you are late, you are not salaried in the law's eyes--a salaried employee earns the same whether they are late or early (salary is not based on your schedule). By deducting money if you are late, they have effectively made you hourly; if you are hourly, you are not exempt from overtime; if not exempt from overtime, you should be paid overtime whenever you work more than 40 hours in a week. (You also might not be exempt from overtime if your duties or responsibilities do not meet the criteria for an overtime exemption; you can find those criteria on the U.S. Dept. of Labor website.) If you work 8:30 to 5, you are working 8.5 hours per day, or around 42.5 hours per week, plus any time you work at nights or on weekends. (Working from home is still work time.) It is possible that you may be owed several hours of overtime per week back for the last two years or so. You should contact the state or federl department(s) of labor to inquire into filing an overtime complaint.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you would not be able to receive unemployment benefits for quitting. It doesn't matter if your job is awful or low paid, or you are working too hard--a voluntary separation from employment (quitting or resigning) denies you unemployment benefits and, after all, people tend to not quit good, high paying jobs where they don't have to work too hard...it is precisely the awful jobs, where your pay doesn't make up for conditions, that people quit. If you could get unemployment for quitting bad jobs, anyone could get unemployment when they quit--but that is not the law. The bar againt receiving unemployment benefits when you quit or resign has no exception for quitting a very bad situation.
However, you may have a claim for back compensation: if they deduct pay when you are late, you are not salaried in the law's eyes--a salaried employee earns the same whether they are late or early (salary is not based on your schedule). By deducting money if you are late, they have effectively made you hourly; if you are hourly, you are not exempt from overtime; if not exempt from overtime, you should be paid overtime whenever you work more than 40 hours in a week. (You also might not be exempt from overtime if your duties or responsibilities do not meet the criteria for an overtime exemption; you can find those criteria on the U.S. Dept. of Labor website.) If you work 8:30 to 5, you are working 8.5 hours per day, or around 42.5 hours per week, plus any time you work at nights or on weekends. (Working from home is still work time.) It is possible that you may be owed several hours of overtime per week back for the last two years or so. You should contact the state or federl department(s) of labor to inquire into filing an overtime complaint.


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