I recently resigned from a company I work at for 2 years. About a year ago a co worker that has always made me uncomfortable began stalking me on line, at work and outside of work. I have documentation in the form of screen shots of his bizarre online behavior. My supervisor downplayed everything and my supervisor bullied me until I had a break down and ended up in the ER and on emergency medical leave. I am trying to get EDD to help while I find employment but HR is acting as if quit without good cause. I am petitioning for my benefits. Can the company just claim they are not aware of this. By the way plenty of coworkers have seen what I have had to endure but are afraid to loose their jobs if they say anything... am I out of luck? And yes the online stalking by this guy continues
You may be entitled to unemployment benefits, if you had good cause to terminate your employment. "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.
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.
Once the claimant's reasons for leaving are determined, the interviewer must apply a three part test to determine the presence of "good cause" as indicated by the regulations quoted above: (1) Is the reason for leaving "real, substantial, and compelling"? (2) Would that reason cause a "reasonable person," genuinely desirous of working, to leave work under the same circumstances? (3) Did the claimant fail to attempt to preserve the employment relationship, thereby negating any "good cause" he/she might have had in leaving?
Is the reason for leaving "real, substantial, and compelling"?
"Real, substantial, and compelling" reasons are necessarily difficult to interpret in the abstract as they depend upon surrounding circumstances to give them meaning.
In California Portland Cement v. CUIAB (178 C.A.2d 263, 1960) the court held:
. . . . "[G]ood cause" and "personal reasons" are flexible phrases . . . . However, in whatever context they appear, they connote, as minimum requirements, real circumstances, substantial reasons, objective conditions, palpable forces that operate to produce correlative results, adequate excuses that will bear the test of reason, just grounds for action, and always the element of good faith."
"Compelling," in this sense merely means that the claimant's reasons for quitting exerted so much pressure that it would have been unreasonable to expect him or her to remain with the employment. The "pressures" exerted upon the claimant may be physical (as with health), moral, legal, domestic, economic, etc.
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You may also have a legal claim against your employer and/or your co-worker, you should contact an employment attorney.
I understand that the employment issues are very pressing and that there are time limits and deadlines that you must attend to. But if you are being stalked, please make immediate reports and demands for assistance to your local police. Don't let need for action on this get overshadowed by your employment issues.
You may be entitled to a range of remedies, including benefits. Based on the facts that you have provided, you would probably want to seek avenues of relief from both the workers' compensation end (although psych injuries are much harder to prove under WC), and through the courts for possible claims for sexual harassment (hostile work environment), failure to prevent harassment, and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA). You should seek advice as soon as possible from an attorney so that you don't run afoul of statute of limitations issues.
Please note that many plaintiff-side employment law attorneys (myself included) would be willing to provide you with a free consultation. Make sure that you keep all documents reflecting the harassment by both your co-worker and supervisor and show them to your attorney. Good luck and feel free to email me with more questions.
Based on your short description of the events, it appears that you have been the victim of hostile workplace sexual harassment at work. Hostile workplace sexual harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to severe or persuasive sexual behavior that makes the work environment abusive. It also appears from what you’ve described, that you were forced to resign when your employer refused and failed to prevent the harassment. If an employee is required to work under conditions that are so offensive, hostile or intolerable that a reasonable person would have no reasonable choice but to resign, the employee's resignation may amount to constructive wrongful termination. As a result, your termination was not “voluntary” and you should have no trouble securing EDD benefits.
But in addition to EDD benefits, it appears that you have valid civil claims against your former employer arising out of the events that led to your termination. Those claims include sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment, and constructive wrongful termination. Finally, keep in mind that employees subjected to unlawful conduct in California in violation of their rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (including unlawful harassment) must file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year or they may lose their right to sue.
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