California Employment Law
Have California Employment Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer.
Hello and thank you for your question today.
Are you online with me?
First, let me say that I am terribly sorry to hear that you are in this situation. To receive unemployment, you must prove that you lost your job through no fault of your own. Usually, resigning from your position without good cause immediately triggers a denial of benefits. Unemp. Ins. Code Section 1256 provides: "An individual is disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits if the director finds that he or she left his or her most recent work voluntarily without good cause. . . ." Good cause is defined in Title 22, Section 1256-3(b): "Good cause" exists for leaving work, when a substantial motivating factor in causing the claimant to leave work, at the time of leaving, whether or not work connected, is real, substantial, and compelling and would cause a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment to leave work under the same circumstances. Generally good cause for leaving work is decided on the facts at the time the claimant left work. Unless there is a timely connection between any alleged reason for leaving and the actual leaving, the employee has waived what might otherwise justify termination of the employment relationship and has negated the required causal connection between any given alleged reason for leaving and leaving. The claimant may submit several reasons for leaving work, some of which, when considered individually, do not constitute good cause. However, if one reason which is good cause is a substantial motivating factor in causing the claimant to leave work, the claimant's leaving is with good cause."
However, Title 22, Section 1256-3(c) provides: "Prior to leaving work, the claimant has a duty to attempt to preserve the employment relationship. Failure to do so negates what would otherwise constitute good cause."
So, had you been fired for not signing, you would have received benefits. Because you resigned, I must unfortunately tell you that things will be very difficult.
In Zorrero v. CUIAB, (47 Cal. App.3d 434, 1975): the court stated "[T]he quitting must be for such a cause as would reasonably motivate in a similar situation the average able-bodied and qualified worker to give up his or her employment with its certain wage rewards in order to enter the ranks of the . . . unemployed." Thus, if you can prove that you were in fact going to get fired, and that quitting was the only reasonable alternative open to you, and that you tried to preserve the employment relationship, then you MAY be able to prevail.
Especially, because if you can show that the change in your duties was so drastic as to constitute a constructive termination.
then you can show that you were technically fired, before you had the opportunity to quit.
The good news, is that unemployment usually denies benefits and sets an appeal the second an employer makes any legitimate argument as to why you should be denied benefits.
However, I do not want to give you false hope here, because if your employer states that they tried to work with you, and you refused, things may not go well if you do not have any documentation to the contrary.
Because to be able to quit in a situation like this, under a theory of constructive termination, you would needed to have allowed the employer an opportunity to remedy the situation, or would have informed the employer that you were not willing to sign, and thus given the employer the chance to allow you to stay in your current position, or some proof that shows that prior to handing them your resignation letter, you did something to try and preserve the employment relationship with the duties you originally had.
I realize that the law is not entirely in your favor here and I am truly sorry to have to deliver bad news. Nonetheless, I trust that you will appreciate an accurate explanation of the law and realize that it would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.
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.
Have a wonderful rest of your day.
Would the fact that I asked them to allow me to make the changes requested but not sign a document I disagreed with show that I tried to preserve the relationship but they declined. Also what about the fact that after completing their requested changes I offered to rescind my resignation. This was the first written warning I received in my entire career and in fact just 3 months prior I received a glowing review and bonus.
I have the letter/action plan in which they state if I did not make the required changes in 30 days I could be terminated. Is that valuable in an EDD hearing?
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).