Resigned Due to Hostile Work Environment? Unemployment Insurance Eligibility

Out of all the possible reasons for separation from the job, one of the most commonly given reasons is resignation due to coercive or intimidating work environment. The hostility may be perpetrated by a colleague,a supervisor or a group of co workers. The provocation may even be by the company as a whole, represented by their hostile policies.

In many cases, the victim of atrocities has no choice but to quit the job, making them ineligible to claim unemployment benefits. For most of you reading this article, you will be aware of the weekly Unemployment Compensation paid out for jobless workers, who’ve lost their job due to no fault of their own. The claimant receives up to 26 weeks of monetary benefits to help them meet basic expenses in life. In case of resignation due to hostile work environment, one may assume that he/she is will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Some happy news for readers who’ve resigned under pressure, you can be eligible to receive the dole, in most cases.


Qualifying for unemployment benefits in such cases depends on the nature and extent of hostility. Some of the circumstances that are commonly accepted are as follows.

  • A criminal activity at workplace that you brought to the attention of your employer.
  • Hostile environment due to harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, age or disability.
  • Issues or conditions that pose a risk to personal and health to self or other workers.
  • Retaliation by a coworker or supervisor for bringing to notice, health/safety issues.

Having mentioned the above, a difficult boss or colleagues not getting well along with you and similar issues may not be considered as hostile work environment.  The bottom line is that there are no legal provisions which say the employer must keep the employee happy and therefore, the employer is not obligated to ensure all round work satisfaction. Similarly, the employee has no legal representation of a pleasant workplace.

Minor disagreements, difference of opinions with supervisors or team members is not considered as hostile work environment. Therefore, instead of resigning on the basis of such trivial issues, it’s recommended to sort these issues internally and iron out differences.  It you decide to quit and claim unemployment insurance while you look for a job, you may not qualify.

Eligibility Determination

If you were separated from your job under such circumstances, the labour authorities will conduct a detailed probe into reasons for your exit, when you apply for Unemployment Insurance.  Based on your inputs at the time of application and the results of their investigation, the representatives will decide if your stance is genuine. Accordingly they will approve/reject the claim.

How Can I Fight It out as My Case is Genuine?

It may not be an easy fight for you. If you’re truthful and strongly believe that there is no shortcoming at your end, please brace yourself for a pitched battle ahead.  Remember, you can only win if you present the facts well. Here are a few points on you should bear in mind during such cases.

1) Document it: Keep a journal, record conversations by means of recording device, keep backup of email conversations that are hostile in nature etc. You are the better judge. Whatever you feel needs to be documented, do so and store them securely.

2) Talk to A Colleague/Superior:  No matter how grave the hostility is, you will have a few colleagues, who you can trust at workplace. Talk to them and tell them about your problem in depth.  Seek remedies or probe further to check if they know someone who can help you sort internally.

3) Record and Track Complaints:  Follow the complaints mechanism laid down by the relevant HR policy in your organisation. Make a complaint and keep copies for future reference. Take print outs or forward responses to personal e mail which can be useful if there is a dispute.

4) Do not Quit Immediately: Unless you’re in absolute danger, do not resign immediately. If you’re seeking Unemployment benefits, stay back until you collect sufficient evidence to prove if there is a dispute.


More than anything else, it’s paramount to ensure your safety at workplace, especially if the hostility can cause physical harm. Raise an alarm and keep your friends and family in loop about key events at work. If need be, lodge a complaint with local law enforcement agencies like the police if you see any threat to your life.

Even if you decide to quit due to unbearable circumstances otherwise, it is not the end of life. There are thousands of opportunities out there. You just need to work smart to be able to find the right job opportunity. Do not hesitate to apply for Unemployment Insurance even if you’re unsure.  There is no harm in applying.

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