Will I be able to collect unemployment benefits if I sign a separation agreement that states I voluntarily resigned my employment?

UPDATED: Nov 1, 2010

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Will I be able to collect unemployment benefits if I sign a separation agreement that states I voluntarily resigned my employment?

My employer recently initiated the termination of my employment, giving me the option to take severance and leave immediately or stay an additional 2 months – at which point I would be terminated without severance. The separation agreement that came with the severance states that I voluntarily resigned my employment. In the state of MA will this disqualify me from receiving unemployment benefits?

Asked on November 1, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that voluntary separation (either resignation or quitting) makes someone ineligible to recieve unemployment benefits. To collect unemployment, your separation must be involuntary (such as reduction in force or a layoff), and not for cause (ie some form of rules violation, insubordination, etc).

If your signed separation agreement states that you voluntarily resigned, then you have no recourse to get unemployment unless you allege (and can prove)that you were somehow tricked into signing it, or the characterization of your separation is incorrect. Absent something of that nature (or you left voluntarily but for a good reason, for example a medical condition) you will not be able to collect.

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