Unsafe Work Conditions Are a Problem
No one should have to work in unsafe work conditions. Unsafe work conditions jeopardize the employee, other workers, and the business.
Normally, when an employee voluntarily quits a job, that person is disqualified from collecting unemployment benefits, unless that person quits because of a good cause that is connected to the job. Okla. Stat. tit. 40 § 2-404
Unsafe working conditions are one of those conditions that can give rise to good cause.
Good cause is defined as conditions that may include a working condition that has changed to such an extent that it is harmful or adverse to a person’s health, safety or morals. It can also mean the employee is treated substantially unfairly by the employer, or that the employer has created substantially difficult working conditions. Finally, it can also mean that the employee has elected to separate from work under a collective bargaining agreement or another employer plan that permits the employee to do so and the employer has agreed. Okla. Stat. tit. 40 § 2-405
Under this statute, here are some conditions that can give rise to a finding of good cause:
- unsafe working conditions (long hours with heavy machinery or driving; unsafe machinery; lack of safety equipment);
- injurious to health;
- job either causes illness or makes it worse;
- a harmful change in working conditions; or
- employer breached the original hiring terms.
With all of these conditions, it is incumbent on the employee to notify the employer of the issue in writing and allow enough time to have the situation corrected. It is important to do this before you quit. This ensures that your employer actually knows about the issue and has a reasonable time to correct it before you quit.
Some jobs are just more hazardous. For example, taking a job as a prison guard puts an employee at more risk than taking a job as a cashier. A person accepts the risk of taking a job such as a prison guard. As long as the employer provided the normal protections needed, a decision to quit such a job would be without good cause.
Benefits were allowed when a driver was required to drive more hours than federal regulations allowed. The employee complained and was told to continue. So he quit. Good cause was shown. (87 AT 2890 BR)
But benefits were denied when an employee quit because of his new driller’s inexperience in drilling deep gas wells. The employer said that the driller was qualified and the well was completed with no problems. Mere allegations of unsafe conditions did not prove that the conditions were unsafe. (83 AT 1058; 83 BR 1686)
Benefits were allowed in a situation where the employee was assigned to a two-man team in a dangerous job and the employee’s co-worker acted as if he were drunk and was not adequately performing his job. Good cause was shown. (90 AT 2028 BR)
You file your claim for benefits with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC). You can file online. The OESC determines if you are eligible for benefits and the amount of your benefit. If your claim is denied, you have a short period of time — only 10 days — to appeal the decision. Make sure that you work with an experienced unemployment benefits expert on your claim and on any appeal that is needed. Once you have submitted your appeal, the Appeal Tribunal will schedule a hearing at which you and your attorney will present evidence and testimony.
Hire the best. When you need help, contact an experienced Oklahoma benefit attorney.
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