Can I collect unemployment if I quit my job due to harassment?

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Can I collect unemployment if I quit my job due to harassment?

I work full-time as an Emergency Medical Technician on an ambulance. I have been with my company for 4 years. A few months ago I was forced to change my hours by them. Since the change I have had to work with a new team. One particular person I am partnered with almost always refuses at times to treat our patients. Also has belittled me and harassed me. I have taken the measures needed with the company about this and nothing has changed. I am afraid I will end up in court because of the mistreatment of patients by my partner. Can I collect unemployment if I quit?

Asked on May 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the harassment is aimed against you because of a protected characteristic--such as, for example, because of your race, religion, sex, age over 40, or a disability--it is likely illegal, and you may have a claim for illegal employment discrimination, which you could bring to the department of labor and/or retain an attorney to sue over.

However, other than not allowing discrimination against or harassment of people on certain specifically protected grounds, the law does not prohibit a co-worker, supervisor, or employer from harassing you or making you do all the work (while someone else does not). Employers are not required to treat employees fairly or professionally. Therefore, if this harassment is not due to a protected characteristic, you likely have no legal rights against it--you can legally be harassed. If that is the case, then if you quit, you will be ineligible for unemployment benefits, since you will have voluntarily left employment.

In short: unless this is illegal employment discrimination, you most likely do not have the right to quit and collect unemployment.

 


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