You may be entitled to unemployment benefits if that environment forced you to quit.
Generally speaking, you can not collect unemployment if your unemployment is the result of your own doing. "Quitting" would be considered the result of your own doing, in most cases. However, in some cases, when a person quits, it is because he or she felt pressured to do so, whether because of discrimination, sexual harassment, or a hostile work environment. If you quit because of a hostile work environment, the rules may change, and you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. At Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker , our Ponca City employment law attorneys help individuals work through their workplace issues and, if necessary, follow through with legal action. If you quit your job because you felt threatened in your place of work, contact our firm today regarding possible recourse.
The law does not consider a hostile work environment to be one in which a person feels uncomfortable or even unwelcome because of peers' opinions of him or her. Rather, a hostile work environment is one in which a person feels as if his or her physical well-being is at stake, or in which illegal activity takes place. Though the courts exercise their own discretion when determining whether or not a place of work is actually hostile, some circumstances in which the law has sided with the employee who discharged him or herself are as follows:
● An individual or individuals within a place of work were embroiled in illegal activity that the discharged employee tried to bring to the employer's attention;
● The place of employment was characterized by health or safety issues that the discharged employee tried to bring to the employer's attention;
● A person or persons within the place of employment partook in illegal harassment or discrimination due to a person's religion, race, age, or disability; and
● An employer began to act hostile toward an employee who brought criminal behavior, discrimination, or safety and health issues to the attention of a regulatory body.
It is important to note that an employer is not legally obliged to maintain a pleasant work environment for employees. If an employee is unhappy because of a difficult boss who treats the majority of the workforce poorly, a manager who expresses a difference of opinion with one or more workers, or a few bad seeds who make work life particularly miserable for everyone else, the courts are unlikely to consider that a hostile work environment. If the reason for your dissatisfaction is merely an unpleasant work environment, you should still consider quitting your job, but do not expect to receive unemployment benefits. Rather, plan for the moment you quit to ensure you have enough money saved up until you find another job.
Proving a Hostile Work Environment
If you believe that your work environment was truly hostile, contact a Ponca City employment law attorney for advice and assistance. If you do decide to file for unemployment benefits, know that the unemployment department is likely to conduct an investigation into the circumstances that led to your unemployment. The officials charged with investigating your case will review your statement and compare it with your work environment to determine the genuineness of your claim. Some things you can do to help out with the investigation and bolster your case are as follows:
● Talk to Someone: If you ever experience troubles at work, talk to someone you trust about them. Whether it be your boss, your manager, a coworker, or someone in human resources, make your complaints known. When the HR department does perform an investigation, it will interview individuals with which you worked. Their testimonies can go a long way toward boosting the validity of your claim.
● Document Everything: Keep careful records of your complaints. Write a journal, create a separate folder of hate mail, and carry an audio recorder. Do what you can to save and document all the harms done to you. Be sure to annotate all incidences with date and time, as well.
● Track Complaints: If you have complained to HR, your manager, or your employer in the past, or if you plan to do so in the future, make sure to do so via email or any other recordable method.
● Do Not Quit Impulsively: Unless you are in imminent danger, resist the urge to quit right away. By sticking around for as long as possible, you can gather sufficient evidence to prove hostility to authorities and therefore, increase your odds of obtaining unemployment benefits.
If a hostile work environment forced you to quit your job, or if it is making you uncomfortable enough to think about quitting, contact the Ponca City employment law attorneys at Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker for guidance. We can review your situation and help you determine if your environment does, in fact, constitute as hostile, and if it does, advise you on what you need to do to collect unemployment benefits. Contact our law firm today to learn more.