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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12620
Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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I work in hostile work environment and plan to give notice

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I work in hostile work environment and plan to give notice in several weeks but fear I may be terminated before then, does giving notice or contacting human resources prolong my employment? Is unemployment an option and would it be affected?

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

My name is Brandon. You asked two questions, so please allow me to address them both.

Brandon M. :

You first asked if giving notice of quitting prolongs one's employment. D.C. is "employment-at-will" which means that both the employer and the employee generally have the right to terminate the employment relationship at most any time and for most any reason. If the employer no longer wants to work with the employee, the employer can (under most circumstances) just terminate the employee on the spot. Likewise, the employee can, under most circumstances, simply say "I quit" and walk out the door.

Brandon M. :

The nuances of every situation are different, so this information should not be relied upon as complete or advice without further examination of the facts. But the general rule is that giving notice does not force the employer to keep the employee any longer. For that reason, if you think that you are about to be terminated, there is probably no reason whatsoever to give more than the absolute minimum amount of notice needed for the employer to accommodate your departure.

Brandon M. :

So far, does that make sense?

Customer:

yes but i would like to stay employed for 4 more weeks.

Customer:

or receive unemployment

Brandon M. :

I understand--part of the problem is that it would ordinarily not be entirely up to you. The general rule is that the employer can "quit" you just like you can quit the employer, and it can be done without notice and for most any reason, or for no reason at all. There are certain exceptions; for example, it is illegal to terminate an employee based on their race, religion, gender, age (if over 40), genetic information, disability, or color. You may also have a written contract that requires the employer to keep you for a certain period of time. There may be some other exception, but for most people, there's simply no protect. The employee doesn't have the right to stay employed, and the employer doesn't have the right to force the employee to keep working for them.

Brandon M. :

So you may not be able to guarantee that your employer keeps you for another 4 weeks, but if you think that your employer might terminate you early if you give notice, then why give notice?

Brandon M. :

If you give notice and your employer terminates you, then you would typically be disqualified from collecting unemployment since you were going to quit anyway. But if you don't give notice and you get terminated, then you would have one less barrier to collecting unemployment benefits.

Brandon M. :

So maybe there is some special reason about your circumstances for why you would want to give notice, but what reason would that be?

Customer:

I am trying to find out if there is any reason to give notice and if it effects my ability to collect unemployment benefits. It sounds like I should just keep working as long as I can......but if I contact human resources are they obligated to investigate and buy some time?

Brandon M. :

When you say that you're trying to figure out if giving notice can affect your ability to collect unemployment benefits, are you asking if quitting affects your ability to collect unemployment benefits? Those are different things.

Brandon M. :

What I mean by that is that the answer would potentially be different.

Customer:

yes i thought it was the excepted standard to give two weeks notice to your employer and they would honor that....

Brandon M. :

I see. Well, here's the thing. Voluntarily leaving your job will normally disqualify an employee from collecting unemployment benefits. However, there is something called "constructive discharge"--it's where an employer has forced the employee to quit by making the job so unbearable that no reasonable person would stay. Constructive discharge can be difficult to prove. It's not that you can't collect unemployment and quit, but it's difficult because you carry the burden of proof.

As for the standard two weeks notice, that's something that employees will oftentimes do as a courtesy to their employer, but it's not a rule.

Customer:

what about filing a complaint with hr would that make sense?

Customer:

would that buy any time?

Brandon M. :

Filing a complaint with HR may slow down the internal process: they would probably want to put a hold on firing you while they investigate your complaint. But any slow down wouldn't be because the law requires them to investigate before terminating you.

Brandon M. :

In other words, it would possibly slow things down because it would be a good idea for the employer to slow things down, not because the law requires an investigation.

Brandon M. :

Does that make sense?

Customer:

yes....ideally I would like to prolong my employment for 3-4 more weeks and possibly get unemployment after that....I have had to put up with a lot of abuses for a year and a half....

Brandon M. :

Well, if your goal is unemployment, giving notice will not help. In fact, getting terminated is usually the best way to qualify for unemployment.

Brandon M. :

Well, I hope that helps. Did you have any other question?

Customer:

No you were very helpful and I will give you an excellent rating.......thank you

Brandon M. :

It was my pleasure. I do wish you the best.

Customer:

thank you!

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