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If You Resign, Can You Get Unemployment?

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In all 50 states, an employee who resigns without "good cause" doesn't qualify for unemployment benefits. However, state laws differ as to how they define good cause. For example, if you're forced to resign, for no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment compensation. Contact your state's unemployment office or employment agency to determine if you're eligible to receive benefits.

Forced Resignation

If you're forced to resign, for reasons other than personal misconduct, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Quitting your job because your employer doesn't offer career advancement or because you don't like your work responsibilities isn't a forced resignation. You chose to quit. A forced resignation includes being laid off due to economic hardship, the elimination of your position, or a request to resign due to personality differences. As long as your former employer doesn't object to your application for unemployment, the state will likely approve your request.

Workplace Discrimination

If you were forced to resign, or you chose to resign as a result of workplace discrimination, or sexual harassment, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing for unemployment. Any discrimination based on age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or veteran status violates Equal Opportunity Employment mandates supported by the U.S. Department of Labor, and you'll likely qualify for unemployment compensation. Make sure that you have credible evidence, such as dated notes, memos or emails, to back your discrimination claims.

Medical Reasons

Apply for unemployment compensation if you resigned due to a medical condition. In some states, the illness or injury must directly relate to the job, for example, when your work responsibilities led to or aggravated an illness or injury. For example, if your doctor documents that your arthritis has worsened and you can no longer type, you may qualify for unemployment. Or, if you resigned because you broke your arm at work and it didn't heal correctly, making it impossible to safely operate equipment, you may qualify for unemployment.

Compelling Personal Reasons

In some states, you qualify for unemployment benefits if you can prove that you resigned your job due to domestic violence. You may have resigned and relocated to get you or your immediate family out of harm's way. For example, in New York, you qualify for unemployment if you resigned because staying at your current job threatened the safety of your brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents or children. In some states, such as California, you qualify for unemployment benefits -- specifically known as family leave insurance -- if you resigned to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent or registered domestic partner. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, some serious illnesses include asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, stroke or terminal diseases, such as cancer. Common cold and flu bugs, minor headaches, earaches, upset stomachs and minor ulcers don't qualify as serious illnesses.


As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.