Just cause means the same thing as “good cause.” Both terms refer to having a good reason for doing something. Just cause as it relates to Oklahoma unemployment law refers to having a good reason — one that will not preclude benefits — for quitting a job.
Having Just Cause to Quit May Allow You to Receive Benefits
Normally, if you voluntarily quit your job in Oklahoma, you will be precluded from collecting unemployment benefits if you apply for them. A person will be disqualified from benefits for voluntarily leaving his or her last position without good cause connected to the job. Okla. Stat. tit. 40 § 2-404
After all, in Oklahoma, benefits are meant to help an employee who separates from employment through no fault of his or her own.
Unemployment benefits often turn on the answer to the question of what constitutes “good cause” or “just cause.”
Good cause has various statutory meanings under Oklahoma law. It can mean employment conditions — which may include working conditions — that have changed so much that they now are harmful or adverse to a person’s health, safety or morals. This can often mean dangerous working conditions.
It also can mean that the employee is being treated substantially unfairly by the employer or that the employer has created substantially difficult working conditions. This might include a working place where there is pay or other discrimination, or there is a high level of harassment.
Hurling accusations and calling an employee a liar may be enough to voluntarily quit and still obtain benefits. (81 BR 705)
Threatening an employee is also “good cause.” (79 AT 4579, 79 BR 915)
But it could also mean that the employer has made it impossible for the employee to perform his or her tasks adequately. This could happen in a situation in which the employer is downsizing and combines all of the work from two employees and gives all of that work to one employee to do.
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.
The Employee or Claimant Has This Burden of Proof
Since the employee is making this assertion, the employee has an affirmative duty to produce enough evidence at their hearing that the conditions were harmful or adverse to a person’s health, safety or morals. If this burden of proof is not met, it is likely that the claimant will not receive benefits. Even if conditions were so bad that you quit, if you fail to provide that evidence, benefits will be disallowed. (97 AT 06214)
When you are trying to determine whether you qualify for benefits, it is important to know that not every severance is really voluntary. That is why the “good cause” or “just cause” exception is contained in the statutes.
In these cases, your benefits may rest on seemingly insignificant facts. Bring your questions and concerns to an experienced Oklahoma unemployment expert to get the help you need.