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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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My company is contracted by a utility. I was assigned to work

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My company is contracted by a utility. I was assigned to work out of Oakland in 2002, I moved to san joaquin county in 2005. I requested to work in Lodi (my company office), the utility agreed. I reported once per week to Oakland. Myself & another employee became sick. The utility stopped me from reporting to Oakland. They found another office, I was asked by the utility if that office was too far, I said yes it is I didn't agree because of the distance, but I only had to report once per week and the other employee lived 10 minutes away. They want me to report 5days now. Currently I am on workers compensation because I have carpal tunnel/tendonitis. the commute with traffic is approximately 4hrs per day roundtrip. Can I quit & get Unemployment due to them moving me? They are giving me until 08/14 to make a decision if I am going to go to Richmond everyday or quit. I need help! what can I do?
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm very sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

I need a bit more information from you before I can proceed to give you a thorough and complete answer.

Can you tell me if moving you to Richmond is a permanent move, or is the employer stating that this would only be temporary?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The customer expressed to the company that they want me in Richmond permanently. five days per week.

Hello Cynthia,

Yes, you would definitely be entitled to unemployment benefits if you quit due to the extraordinary length and time of your new proposed commute to Richmond.

Previously, the courts have held that two hour commutes (50 miles each way) are excessive enough to give an employee 'good cause' to voluntarily quit his or her job and receive unemployment benefits.

When an employee quits for good cause he or she is entitled to unemployment benefits. Good cause is defined as a reason that would make another reasonable person in the same circumstances who wanted to stay employed also quit his or her job.

Your commute length and time goes beyond excessive and unreasonable, so it more than provides you with good cause to leave your job, especially with your carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and COPD.

The information below comes from EDD's section on voluntary quits due to travel time and length:

(If it's easier, you can access the full information on the EDD's site here:

Time, Distance and Cost

Travel Time
Because travel time is subjective, depending upon the claimant's situation and labor market area, there is no hard-and-fast answer for "how much time should the claimant be required to spend in traveling to reach work?"

In P-B-232, the claimant was employed as a telephone operator in Salinas, working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. She walked to and from work. The employer had to reduce its staff and the claimant could have "bumped" into the Monterey office 24 miles away, working 1:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. In holding the claimant eligible, the Board stated:

. . .[S]he would have been required to spend approximately three hours per day in commuting time at what would undoubtedly have been a fairly substantial cost. In addition, the claimant would have had to make other arrangements for the care of her child. Undoubtedly, this too would have involved a considerable extra expense in view of the required additional three hours away from home and the fact that evening care would have to be provided. Considering all of these factors, it is our conclusion that the claimant had good cause for leaving her employment.

As pointed out in P-B-25:

Travel time should not be considered in a vacuum but in context with all other factors such as distance, cost of commuting, the wages paid for the work, the nature and permanence of the job, the nature and permanence of any travel difficulties, and numerous others.

Travel Distance
The distance the claimant must commute to work in and of itself, is not a determining factor in establishing good cause for quitting work. Primary weight must be given to the fact that the claimant previously had been traveling the distance to the employer's place of business. Therefore, the claimant cannot with justification state that the distance is excessive.

In P-B-245, the claimant lived in Costa Mesa and commuted to Inglewood, approximately 50 miles each way. He moved to Laguna Beach, adding another 10 miles to the commute; the overall travel time was approximately two hours each way. He continued to report to work for another five months after the move. The claimant was 66 and was required to climb up ladders to go in and out of airplanes, a physically taxing job. He began to suffer from fatigue from what was essentially a 12-hour day, and on several occasions dozed off while commuting, once driving his car off the highway and into a barricade. In its decision, the Board stated:

Transportation and willingness to commute to and from work have long posed a problem with respect to a claimant's eligibility for benefits. Suitability of offered work, the availability of a claimant for work, and good cause for leaving work all must be considered within the concept of that which is reasonable as to time, distance, or cost of travel or any combination thereof.

Analysis of . . . cases . . . decided shows that no definite standards or criteria may be established. Although we have held that 30 and 45 miles are excessive, distance and cost to and from work must be considered in light of the commuting pattern of any given community, including the feasibility of public transportation. Travel time may similarly be viewed as to that which is normal. . . . Additional factors may also be relevant and require consideration. Specifically, the age and physical condition of the claimant which may well affect the safety with which he travels.

Considering the facts before us, we must decide the eligibility of a claimant, age 66, driving 60 miles to and from work and requiring a commuting time each way of up to two hours, depending upon traffic conditions. This claimant had driven in excess of 100 miles round trip to work over a prolonged period of time. As a result of his move to Laguna Beach, however, the distance of travel was increased by ten miles each way with a corresponding increase in travel time.

He had attempted in good faith to continue commuting and had previously declined retirement in favor of continued employment. The inevitable fatigue caused by his advanced years coupled with the nature of his duties and excessive commuting made travel to and from work hazardous. Under such circumstance, we find the claimant had good cause for leaving work . . . .

With respect to the argument that the claimant voluntarily increased the distance to work by moving to Laguna Beach in the first place, the Board stated:

It is our opinion that the distance and travel time from his former residence in Costa Mesa to his place of employment was also excessive and had he left employment for this reason . . . he would have had good cause for doing so. Thus, we can attach no significance to his change of residence, particularly when he continued to work for approximately five months thereafter. The move was not the proximate cause of the termination.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any follow up or clarifying questions regarding the information above.

Thanks and best of luck!
Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
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