A Change in Work Conditions Can Be Just Cause to Quit
When an employee voluntarily quits and seeks to collect Oklahoma unemployment benefits, the separation must have been for good cause. While the employee might believe there was a good reason to quit, good cause for purposes of unemployment claims is defined by law.
Oklahoma unemployment law defines good cause as a change in work conditions such that the job is harmful, adverse or detrimental to a person’s health, safety or morals such that leaving work was justified; substantially unfair treatment of the employee or the creation of substantially difficult working conditions by the employer; or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement or other written employer plan which permits it and the employer has consented. OESC § 2-405; Okla. Stat. 40 § 2-405.
In order for the change in work conditions to qualify as good cause for voluntary termination, the change must be harmful to health, safety or morals. And it must be so compelling that the employee has no choice but to quit. Unlike when an employer terminates employment, when an employee quits it is the burden of that employee — the “claimant” — to prove that the change meets the criteria of good cause.
Case Applications in Oklahoma Unemployment Law
The facts of each unemployment appeal are different, but we can look to prior cases for guidance on which circumstances satisfy the requirement in Oklahoma unemployment law that a person must have good cause to quit a job and collect unemployment benefits.
Benefits were allowed in a case in which the employee resigned due to health issues related to a chemical that was used in her workplace. This testimony was not refuted by the employer. The employee’s resignation was initiated by a health issue related to the chemicals used at work. Good cause was established and benefits were allowed. (17 AT 02278 BR).
In contrast, benefits were disallowed in a situation in which an employee was reassigned duties. In this case, the employee was originally hired as a licensed Certified Medication Aide (CMA). That position also required that she be licensed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). The employee took time off from work due to stress-related problems. She felt that the stress was caused by her work as a CMA. Her employer allowed her to return to work as a CNA to reduce her stress. The CNA position had the same work schedule, number of hours and pay, but the employee felt that the CNA position was too difficult for her due to the physical nature of the job. The employee did not return to work and she did not present any medical evidence that showed that she was unable to work as a CNA. Good cause was not shown and no benefits were allowed. (15 AT 11847 BR)
A claimant must prove that the circumstances causing them to quit were severe enough to cause them harm if they stay in the position. This can be a tough burden to meet. If you are seeking benefits, you want to make sure to understand what evidence will be found to be compelling. An Oklahoma unemployment lawyer can help you protect your right to benefits.
Free Legal Consultation With An Experienced Oklahoma Unemployment Attorney in Tulsa
Don’t go this one alone. It is important to get the help you need. We will work for you and protect your benefits to the best of our ability. To set up your free consultation with the Oklahoma Unemployment Experts attorney’s office, call (918) 923-3776, or click the button below to sign up for a no-obligation unemployment consultation now.