If my new job requires excessive overtime, can I quit and still collect unemployment?

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If my new job requires excessive overtime, can I quit and still collect unemployment?

I have been working at a new job for about 5months. The job requires many more hours than I was originally told. It was supposed to be about 40 hours but I’ve been working 60 to 70 and still can’t get ahead. I spoke to my supervisor several times but I am just told it will get better. The stress has flared my fibromyalgia and my hair is falling out. I gave notice because I’m worried about my health and don’t feel I have an option. I’m looking for a less stressful job but will I qualify for unemployment even though I quit?

Asked on August 10, 2011 North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, from what you write, you will probably not qualify for  overtime.

1) Companies have a right to make you work as many hours as they like, subject only to the obligation to pay you overtime IF you are a non-exempt (e.g. hourly) employee--if you are exempt (e.g. many or most salaried staff), you don't even get the extra pay.

2) Unless you had a written employment agreement or the like from the company delineating your hours, an employer may change or add to employee hours at will.

Therefore, you company is not doing anything wrong which would justify (legally) quitting and let you collect unemployment. Also:

3) Many jobs are stressful--if people could quit jobs because of stress and collect unemployment, near everyone would at some time or another. Job stress is not something, however, which you are legally protected from or which companies can't impose on you; therefore, if fyou quit for this reason, it is your own voluntary choice, but voluntary separation from a job does not make you eligible for unemployment.


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