When Is It Legal to Quit a Job?
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Can I Quit My Job without Giving Notice?
Deciding whether to quit a job can be stressful. Generally, when deciding to quit a job, one does not need to give notice. However, there are a few instances where giving notice may be required, or at least preferable:
- Employment Agreements – If someone has a signed employment agreement, abandoning a job may be considered a breach of this agreement and expose them to liability.
- Contractual Obligations – In addition to an employment agreement, there may be other contracts from the job that may carry legal consequences if they are breached.
- Securing Benefits - sick days, vacation pay, severance and other forms of compensation may be sacrificed if you do not give proper notice.
What Are Some Legal Consequences of Quitting My Job?
From a legal perspective, there are no consequences for quitting a job. As mentioned above, the only time there may be legal consequences of quitting a job will not result in the breach of a contract or other agreement. However, there may be other negative effects of leaving a job.
- Bad Reference – Quitting a job may result in an employer refusing to give or giving a bad reference, impacting future employment. However, be aware that employers are limited in what they can say about an ex-employee in job references. Keep in mind that an employer refusing to give a reference may be just as damaging as receiving a bad one.
- Leaving Network – Abandoning a job, even with proper notice, may burn bridges between former co-workers. This may affect ones ability to find new opportunities for work.
- Delay in Final Paycheck – Depending on the state, there may be significant delays in obtaining final paycheck. Furthermore, if there is a discrepancy between the amount paid and the amount that the person quitting believes is due, resolving that problem may be exponentially more difficult now that they are no longer in the work place.
Will I Be Able to Collect Unemployment If I Quit My Job?
Many individuals believe that if they quit a job, they will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. Contrary to popular belief, there are a few instances where someone is still entitled to unemployment compensation after they quit a job.
- Good Cause – what constitutes “good cause” is highly variable, but some examples include: illnesses, domestic violence, and unsuitable work conditions.
- Contractive Discharge – Constructive discharge is essentially what people think of when they hear “hostile work place.” While the elements for this will vary by state, what constructive discharge boils down to is a reasonable person would find the working conditions unacceptable and nearly impossible to perform in. The law considers this a form of wrongful termination.
Should I Seek Legal Help?
If you are considering quitting a job, it would be wise to consult with an employment attorney first to understand the laws of your state. If you are under contract or some other agreement, an experienced lawyer will help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and may help you avoid any disastrous, unintended consequences of quitting your job.
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Last Modified: 09-14-2015 10:10 PM PDT
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