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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6801
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I had to leave company X because of disagreements with manager.

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I had to leave company X because of disagreements with manager. I started my job on Aug. 20th, working 15-17 hours a day kept me from finding permanent housing. I consulted HR on a Friday because I needed to arrange housing by Saturday (company 1 month housing was over) and they were requesting me to work during the weekend. Manager started going after me following that incident claiming I wasn't doing my job within 2 months of starting my job, with no training provided, with none of his supervision but having me work with someone who has been there only 3 months. I consulted HR, was not satisfied with their response since it was only supporting my manager, so escalated to employee relations. They offered me a package via employee relations when my manager sent me an email saying he would "proceed with termination" if I didn't take the package, so I had to take it. I wanted to keep my job but it did not seem like an option.

What should I say during EDD interview for unemployment insurance eligibility?

Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear about this situation.

Am I correct in assuming that your reference to the EDD means you are in California? Also, can you explain more about this "package" that you accepted?

I very much look forward to assisting you regarding this matter.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, this company is "the biggest company" in CA and they offered 2 months salary lump sum when I requested relocating back to MA (they recruited me from MIT, paid for relocation, but threatened to fire me with no training or paying back for relocation after me complaining about 15-17 hour work days, weekend work and holiday work.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your reply.

So it sounds like you started work, discovered you were working completely intolerable hours, eventually complained and were offered a severance package in exchange for your resignation? Would you say that is a fair summary of the circumstances?

Also, would you say that your hours were misrepresented before taking the job, and if so why? Finally, were you working prior to this job in MA, or were you recruited straight from school?

Sorry for all these followup questions but I need this information to answer your question as best as possible.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I never wrote a resignation, just signed a paper that says I will not sue them and both sides are dropping the claims (release of claims, if I remember correctly). The hours were DEFINITELY misrepresented, they even showed us SF but I had no time to eat lunch OR dinner, was on the phone with China almost every night (on one circumstance until 1.30 am). They supposedly reduced my workload after I complained and had me work with Brazil only for about 20 days, but they put all my actions under scrutiny to collect evidence to say that am not doing my job. The manager seemed very determined to find reasons to make me look like am not doing my job.


 


I was recruited after 1 year Master's program at MIT, however my latest professional work (5 years experience) is outside the asked window on CA unemployment questionnaires.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for your reply. This is the information I needed.

The biggest impediment to collecting unemployment for an individual in your circumstance will be the fact that you arguably left your position "voluntarily." This is because unemployment benefits are available only to those individuals whom the EDD finds to be unemployed "through no fault of their own." When someone voluntarily leaves work, they will ordinarily be regarded as unemployed "through fault," since they made the voluntary decision to become unemployed.

An exception to this principle is recognized where an individual quits work with "good cause." "Good cause" may arise where the working conditions are so intolerable that a reasonable person genuinely desireous of keeping their job would be forced to resign under the same circumstances. More specifically, Title 22, Section 1256-23 (b), provides:

". . . An individual who leaves work due to mere personal dislike, distaste, or minor inconvenience caused by working conditions leaves without good cause. If the working conditions are so unsatisfactory as to be intolerable to a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment and prior to leaving work the individual has taken steps to preserve the job . . . there is good cause for leaving the work. An individual who has good cause to leave work for intolerable working conditions is not required to seek an adjustment from the employer prior to leaving work if the employer is unable to remedy the working condition or has previously refused the individual's request for adjustment, or the individual knows that the employer has refused the requests of other employees for an adjustment of the same working condition.

If it were me, I would argue that my hours were misrepresented prior to my taking the position and that the hours I was forced to work (15+ hours per day) were so intolerable that a reasonable person could not have remained employed under the circumstances. I would represent the circumstances of my separation of employment honestly but I would also be sure to mention that my employer essentially "forced" me out by threatening to "proceed with termination" if I didn't accept the package. In this sense, I would argue that my separation of employment was actually involuntary and that, regardless, I am presently out of work "through no fault of my own."

Whether or not you are unemployed "through fault of your own" will certainly be the focus of inquiry of the EDD. Provided you are cognizant of the legal principles and arguments stated above and effectively communicate your position to the EDD, an individual in your circumstance should have a very good chance at having your claim for benefits accepted.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, I would be most grateful if you would remember to provide my service a positive rating, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Very best wishes to you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Could you please be a little more specific on what I need to say during the interview?


 


I have written proof that my boss said if I did not work it out with employee relations, he will "proceed with termination"


 


Also, there must be a way to prove that I was on the phone with China until 1.30 am in the morning on one circumstance, and working until midnight on many circumstances, which are "good cause" to leave work.


 


Can we be more specific as to what I can list as "good causes"?


 


Basically, what will I need to say? (I will take your advice as a suggestion, but I need more concrete help, if possible)

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you again for your reply. Here on Just Answer we can provide general information about the law but cannot provide "legal advice," and so I can't tell you specifically what to say. I do apologize for this limitation.

I can tell you what you will need to emphasize, which is the utter unreasonableness of your hours. Any proof you have of the hours you were working and of the complaints you made concerning your hours will be relevant to the EDD's concerns. This is what you need to focus on.

I realize that you never signed a resignation, but I can assure you your employer will contest your benefits claim on the ground that you left your position voluntarily, so I am preparing you for that.

You can argue that you were fired and not actually let go, but that's kind of an "all the eggs in one basket" type argument, since if your contention is that you were fired it is hard to effectively argue that you were forced to resign due to intolerable work conditions. You either were fired or you quit, it can't really be both.

Again, I cannot tell you specifically what to say or do because I am not your attorney and cannot provide legal advice, but I can tell you that the best shot for an individual in your circumstance to collect benefits is to argue that you quit with good cause because your work conditions were misrepresented and were so intolerable in terms of hours that a reasonable person would not have stayed. Anything you can offer in the way of proof with regard to your hours you will want to produce to the EDD.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Kindest regards.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Employee relations told me that if I was "fired" I cannot get unemployment benefits or any severance, whereas if I take their offer, they will not hold the benefits back (or contest it) and also I get the 2 month severance. Should I talk about this? On top of that there was the email from manager saying he will fire me, so I took the package, voluntarily, but since I HAD to take it.


 


I also offered them to transfer me to another department, they did not help saying I am ineligible because I am on a "performance coaching" plan. Would this prove that I tried to keep my job? They told me I am not a good fit for those working hours, but doing my job great, before their opinion suddenly changed into "not doing your job great" that led to me reacting and going to HR and employee relations.


 


Really, the worst company in the world, BY FAR. They are not interested in humanity at all.


 


 

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
They sound like a horrendous company to work for. I once worked for a law firm that had a similar philosophy, so I think I can relate.

First, to clarify, a common trick employers like to use is to promise that they will not contest benefits. That may be true, but what they don't tell you is that the decision to award you benefits is not up to them--it's up the EDD, and the EDD will deny your benefits claim if appropriate to do so regardless of whether your employer "contests" it.

You are at a fork in the road and only you can decide which path to take. On one hand, you can argue that you were forced out of your position and this was effectively a termination. The fact that you were essentially compelled to sign the agreement or your employer would "proceed with termination" is proof of that. The "choice" to leave the company here was illusory, and since you did not voluntarily leave, you are not unemployed "through fault of your own."

On the other hand, you can argue that you quit, but that you did so with good cause because your hours were so intolerable that a reasonable person would not have stayed.

As I noted above, you really can't take both of these positions because they are fundamentally inconsistent. I think that either argument gives you a decent shot at having your benefits claim being approved, but neither is guaranteed. As I noted above, if it were me, I'd probably make the argument that my work conditions were interolerable. But as I also noted, I am not your attorney and so cannot "advise" you on this point. I can only provide you with information--what you choose to do with it is up to you.

I truly hope that you have found my responses to be helpful. I would be very grateful if you would remember to provide my service with a positive rating. Of course, if you have any further concerns I am more than happy to address them, but as it is now quite late in the evening I will be retiring until the morning, so I likely won't respond to any further inquiries until then.

Best wishes and good evening.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6801
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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