If a medical condition develops after working under extreme stress and harassment, can an employee resign and collect unemployment?

UPDATED: Apr 7, 2012

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If a medical condition develops after working under extreme stress and harassment, can an employee resign and collect unemployment?

Asked on April 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, the employee may not collect unemployment if he or she resigns due to stress. Employers have no duty to avoid inflicting stress on an employee--they may make the workplace or job as stressful as they want under the law. Since there is no legal duty to avoid imposing stress, resigning due to stress is legally unwarranted; it would be considered a voluntary separation from employment, rendering the employee ineligible for unemployment. (Consider: if stress were grounds to resign and receive unemployment, everyone would be able to do this, and no no one would be working--especially in this economy, almost everyone has stressful, even highly stressful, jobs.)

It may be the right thing for the employee's life and health to resign and seek other employment, but he or she would not be entitled to unemployment benefits.

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