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Can i collect unemployment if i quit due to harrasment?

Eau Claire, WI |

I have been being harrassed at work over the last 3 months, one time was verball the other two times notes about my sexuallity were left in my work area. I have talked to my managers all three times, this last time i tild them i am scared for my safety, And i am pregnant and cant handle the stress of all this. We spoke with human resources, the only option they gave me was to move me to a diffrent plant. I am scared no matter where they put me the person writing these notes will know i told and that scares me. I want to quit but want to know if i can get unemployment. My managers gave me the week of to decide what i want to do and call them on monday. please Help

The option to move to another plant would be in the same area. But i am fearfull to move to another plant because people in the steel plant that i work at now, know people in other plants. Wouldnt moving to another plant be considered "NEW WORK" for unemployment purposes? I dont want a job that i am scared to go to.

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Attorney answers 1


It is possible to get unemployment benefits even though you initiated the termination, as long as you were essentially forced to quit due to "good cause." And yes, harassment such as you described can often qualify as "good cause." Be aware, however, that the bar for such claims is set fairly high; in other words, it has to be really bad. In your situation, being the object of continuing sexual harassment and being afraid for your safety (if the fear is reasonable), may qualify. It is important, too, that you have evidence to support your claims. Also, if the employer took reasonable steps to fix the problem(s) and you quit anyway, your claim can be denied. And finally, if your initial claim is denied--which often happens when you answer the automated U.C. Benefits Line that you quit rather than being terminated--you can appeal the decision, but it may take time, time that you would not be getting benefits.

I will give you impression based on the facts you gave, but keep in mind that it's not really an answer or legal advice, because I would have to do a detailed interview and investigation before I could give a firm answer, OK? The description you gave of being sexually harassed would seem to be a legitimate reason for serious concern, as well as stress. As long as the situation is not fixed, it would seem reasonable that you couldn't continue to work in the same area. The important question here is whether the employer's offer to transfer you to a different plant is a reasonable way to address the problem. Is the other plant here in Eau Claire, or are they talking about having you move to another city or state or something? Requiring you to move would probably not be reasonable unless you are in a high-salary position, or if they would pay your moving expenses. But if it is a plant here in EC or the area, then it might well be a reasonable alternative. So you see, the answer at this point is, "it depends..." I know that's frustrating, but it's the best I can tell you right now.

Since the answer to your question ultimately depends on all of the facts--more than can be revealed in an online format--the best thing you can do is contact an attorney in your area who focuses his/her practice in employment issues. Here in EC, I would highly recommend Jack Kaiser (832-3494; office downtown on Grand Av).

The next best thing would be to contact a Claims Specialist at the WI Dept. of Workforce Development (DWD). Contact information can be found at (By the way, the DWD website doesn't really give you a good explanation for your issue, as far as I can find.)

I wish you the best, hoping you are able to get a decent resolution to your situation. Again, I would recommend you give Mr. Kaiser a call and at least see what you might learn from him.

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