Picture
I am often asked if a person can get unemployment benefits if they quit their job.  The short answer is a definite maybe.  Generally, it very difficult, but not impossible, to get unemployment benefits if you quit a job.

If you quit a job, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had good reason to quit caused by the employer, even if you meet all of the other criteria for eligibility.  A “good reason to quit caused by the employer” is  defined as “a reason (a.) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; (b.) that is adverse to the worker; and (c.) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a).  So, if you quit, you are generally ineligible to receive unemployment benefits unless you had good reason to quit caused by the employer.

What is a good reason to quit?

“Good cause” is a reason that is “real, not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical; there must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances.” Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900, n. 5 (1976).

Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 511 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997), citation in original.

You may not have "good reason" if you did not complain to the employer about the situation that would cause you to quit and give your employer a chance to correct the problem.  Further, you might not have "good cause" if you do not report further problems to your employer after the employer promises that the problem will be corrected.

Further, the standard for determining good cause is “the standard of reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive.” Id., citation omitted.  In other words, whether you had good cause to quit is analyzed from the perspective of an average, reasonable worker in your position, not necessarily from your perspective.


For example, if you do not like a co-worker's appearance, that by itself is not a good reason to quit your job.  After all, an average, reasonable worker would probably put up with the co-worker's appearance to stay employed.  However, if the co-worker harasses you and you have complained to your employer, who promised to correct the situation, and the harassment continued unabated, that may be good reason to quit.


There are a lot of exceptions to the general rule that you are ineligible for unemployment benefits if you quit a job.  Exceptions include:


  • the applicant quit the employment to accept other covered employment that provided substantially better terms and conditions of employment, but the applicant did not work long enough at the second employment to have sufficient subsequent earnings to satisfy the period of ineligibility that would otherwise be imposed under subdivision 10 for quitting the first employment;


  • the applicant quit the employment within 30 calendar days of beginning the employment because the employment was unsuitable for the applicant;

  • the employment was unsuitable for the applicant and the applicant quit to enter reemployment assistance training;

  • the employment was part time and the applicant also had full-time employment in the base period, from which full-time employment the applicant separated because of reasons for which the applicant was held not to be ineligible, and the wage credits from the full-time employment are sufficient to meet the minimum requirements to establish a benefit account under section 268.07;


  • the applicant quit because the employer notified the applicant that the applicant was going to be laid off because of lack of work within 30 calendar days. An applicant who quit employment within 30 calendar days of a notified date of layoff because of lack of work is ineligible for unemployment benefits through the end of the week that includes the scheduled date of layoff;


  • the applicant quit the employment (i) because the applicant's serious illness or injury made it medically necessary that the applicant quit; or (ii) in order to provide necessary care because of the illness, injury, or disability of an immediate family member of the applicant. This exception only applies if the applicant informs the employer of the medical problem and requests accommodation and no reasonable accommodation is made available.


  • If the applicant's serious illness is chemical dependency, this exception does not apply if the applicant was previously diagnosed as chemically dependent or had treatment for chemical dependency, and since that diagnosis or treatment has failed to make consistent efforts to control the chemical dependency.  (This exception raises an issue of the applicant's being available for suitable employment under section 268.085, subdivision 1, that the commissioner must determine);

  • the applicant's loss of child care for the applicant's minor child caused the applicant to quit the employment, provided the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other child care and requested time off or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation is available.  (This exception raises an issue of the applicant's being available for suitable employment under section 268.085, subdivision 1, that the commissioner must determine);

  • domestic abuse of the applicant or an immediate family member of the applicant, necessitated the applicant's quitting the employment; or

  • the applicant quit in order to relocate to accompany a spouse whose job location changed making it impractical for the applicant to commute.


Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1, emphasis added.


If you are denied unemployment benefits because you quit a job, your best bet is to meet with an attorney who handles unemployment appeals to see if you have a "good reason to quit caused by the employer" or if you qualify for an exception.  To that end, I represent both applicants and employers in unemployment appeals.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.