If I quit my job due to discrimination, can I file for unemployment benefits?

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If I quit my job due to discrimination, can I file for unemployment benefits?

I quit my job because a co-worker said really bad things to me, such as, “Hispanic women come here to have 4 or 5  kids to live off the government. I reported this to HR but they did nothing and I feel really bad because I know that if I was the one saying that to an American they would let me go.

Asked on February 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you quit your job because of discrimination, you cannot collect unemployment benefits, since it is still a voluntary separation from employment. If you had been fired due to your race or gender, that would be different; but having quit, you render yourself ineligible for unemployment.

However, that does not mean that you do not have legal recourse. Discriminating against a person in employment due to her sex or race is illegal under federal law. In addition, Massachusetts make it illegal to discriminate agaiinst a person due to her national origin. You therefore may have a legal claim for compensation; you should discuss the situation and your options with an employment law attorney  (note: many provide a free initial consultation to evaluate a situation; you can ask the lawyer if he or she does this before meeting with him or her).


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