Can I collect unemployment if I quit or if I am fired?

UPDATED: Apr 12, 2012

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Can I collect unemployment if I quit or if I am fired?

I work as customer service rep at a call center for a cell phone company. We do not get regular breaks. About 5 months ago I started having fainting/blackout spells both at and away from work, memory loss and headaches. I even drove my car off the road a few times. I spend the night in the hospital for observation and spent a week at a behavioral health clinic. I had 5 MRIs, an MRV, at least 3 CT scans and more blood work than I can remember and ever diagnosis was work-related depression, anxiety and migraines. My paid leave ran out 2 months ago and I expect them to fire me when FMLA runs out. Do I have a lawsuit for lost wages since I have been unable to work due to medical reasons?

Asked on April 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you typically do not have a lawsuit for lost wages, if  you cannot work due to medical reasons. The law does not require employers to hire, retain, or pay employees who cannot work, even if the reason they cannot work is medical; therefore, the employer has no obigation to pay you if you cannot work, and you thus have not basis for a lawsuit.

You also probably do not have any grounds to collect unemployment unless you are fired, and not for cause. Leaving work because it is too stressful for you is considered a voluntary separation from leave, and it renders you ineligible for unemployment. (Bear in mind that many, perhaps most, people have stressful jobs; if stress were grounds to leave work and collect unemployment, a substantial portion of the population would do it, at an unsupportable cost--which probably explains why leaving due to stress is not considered grounds for unemployment, since the alternative, to grant unemployment in that case, would be unworkable.)

If you do not show up for work after your FMLA leave runs out, you could be fired for cause--for excessive absenteeism--which would again make you ineligible for unemployment insurance. Only those fired not for cause can collect unemployment.

Sometimes a job is  bad for you and the best thing to do is leave it--but that does not necessarily mean you are entitled to compensation.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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