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Are you eligible to collect unemployment benefits if you quit your job due to stress?

Los Angeles, CA |

Attorney yelled at secretary because he has a temper and it has happened on more than one occasion. The secretary is now stressed out and Human Resources seems to be siding with the attorney.

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You might, but it is certainly much more difficult if you voluntarily quit. In California, in order to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, you need to have been unemployed through no fault of your own.

When an individual files a claim for unemployment benefits, the EDD documents the reason the individual is no longer working, and includes it in the Notice of Claim Filed, DE 1101CZ, which is mailed to the last employer. The employer may also provide written information about the reason the individual is no longer working when responding to this notice.

If the individual quit, the EDD will conduct a telephone interview with the individual and the employer approximately two weeks after the claim is filed to determine whether or not the individual is eligible for unemployment benefits, according to state law and regulations.

California law provides that an individual who quits his/her job may be eligible forunemployment benefits provided there was "good cause" for leaving employment, and the individual made all reasonable attempts to keep their job (e.g., request of leave of absence or transfer). Once all reasonable alternatives to leaving have been attempted, good cause may include situations such as leaving work due to unsafe working conditions, leaving work based on a medical doctor's advice, or leaving work to protect oneself or one's child from domestic violence.

The EDD staff will determine on a case-by-case basis, whether the facts presented for the quit are "good cause" according to state law. Of course, the individual must also meet all other eligibility requirements before unemployment benefits can be paid.

The EDD’s law and policy guidelines regarding "Voluntary Quits" are available on the EDD Web site at:

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


When someone quits their job, getting unemployment benefits is more problematic, it is not impossible. However you will need to prove that you were forced to quit to avoid the untenable conduct of this attorney. Keep in mind that if your stress level increases to a point where you are having debilitating physical or emotional symptoms you should consult with a good workers compensation attorney who can make sure you get treatment and file a claim for you.

Good luck to you

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


The California Employment Development Department (EDD) administers California’s unemployment insurance program and evaluates claims for benefits. The EDD provides helpful information on its website:

Home page

Eligibility requirements

Summaries of the law (Benefit Determination Guide)


Precedent Decisions (law the administrative law judges rely on)

Frequently asked questions

Filing a claim for unemployment benefits

*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***



People want an answer - not directions to various links. It is impersonal and you shrug the person off by saying look it up yourself. We ask these questions here because it is our probably our one and only chance at having the advice of counsel that can explain to us in plain English what our options are. Thank you for taking the time however. The links are good and will be bookmarked but the person that asked me to ask this question would not have easily understood what to look for. I note that many employers now "hire off the street" in order to save money thereby bypassing the experienced assistant which may be the problem for the various conflicts that occur in the office.

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer


I'm sorry my response disappointed you so much that you were compelled to scold me. Previous responses already gave the essential information. I provided something additional in case it were useful. More specific suggestions require more information than that provided by the initial inquiry. I agree many employers are choosing whatever hiring option is the least expensive . . . or seems to be. Seems penny wise and pound foolish. Many of these same employers provide little or no training. The benefits an experienced employee can bring to an employer are more cost-effective than the resources wasted by fixing the mis-steps of an employee who has no idea what he or she is doing. And in today's job market, an employer has a lot of opportunity to hire experienced employees at a reasonable cost.



I'm sorry, it was not meant as a scold. I typed out the question for a friend of mine and basically we were looking for that "black and white" answer "face to face" without having to go through the links. On the one hand she has to be happy because the money she is making is above and beyond what is now considered and legal secretarial salary. Unfortunately, I (for example) have more experience in the legal field as a civil litigation secretary and downsizing has cause me to lose my job and now I also face age discrimination which is quite distressing. I must thank you however for taking time out of your Saturday to respond to my comment. Thank you.