My friend walked off her job

My friend was written up this morning for the second time due to her paperwork being late. She got so upset she walked off the job. When she called her employer when she got home to see if she could come back, they said no and that their decision was final. Is there anything she can do to get her job back or collect unemployment? She recently was on disability due to her hormone levels being down so low. Her doctor gave her one month off as well as a prescription to increase her hormone levels.

Employment laws vary in their specifics by state in the US. Can you tell us what state she used to have a job in?

In North Carolina, for example, she would be SOL. Job abandonment in this economy is a pretty stupid way to blow off steam, as this is an at-will state, and employers can fire you for any reason or no reason, so long as it’s not an illegal reason, and if I had a problem employee who decided that a good reaction to being disciplined was to give themselves a time-out without my consent, I would happily make it permanent.

Pretty much walked off = quit in my experience.

AFAIK you can only collect Unemployment if you lose your job through no fault of your own, not if you quit (which it sure sounds like she did).

Is there any possibility that her actions were related to her hormone levels? I think, though, to try to pursue that angle as some sort of legal case would be dicey and require a big emotional and financial investment that won’t pay off.

Regardless, as said, laws vary by state. Generally, though, if you walk off the job it is effectively quitting. If you quit, they don’t have to take you back, and I’ll bet that much is true in any state. That will be a problem for her to collect unemployment as well.

Reading between the lines, it looks like the employer was probably gearing up for something anyway if they made a written record of her job performance. They were probably overjoyed to have her leave without having to fire her. I don’t mean to be unsympathetic to your friend but I’ve been around enough to see this before. Might not be her fault, sounds like the relationship wasn’t that good.

She should turn this into an opportunity to find something that is a better fit for her.

Not necessarily. My daughter quit her job working at a police department in Southern California, moved to Oklahoma to run a bar that failed, then moved to Kansas to live with her fiancé and was able to collect unemployment from California almost a year after she had quit. I was really surprised, but you can apparently quit a job and still collect unemployment benefits.

Well, IMHO she’ll likely out of luck and even if she could, should not be allowed to collect unemployment. You quit you quit. Deal with the consequences.

crazydogwalker: In Indiana, your friend would be SOL; like North Carolina, Hoosierland is an at-will state. However, if she could prove her medical condition had something to do with her resignation, she might be able to get unemployment. She would have to check with the unemployment office.

dolphinboy (and laggard, too): It all depends on state law. About 20 years ago, I quit my job in Indiana to take one that I thought was better (it was because I didn’t have to deal with the insane lying asshole of an owner). I was laid off after a few months, but I was still able to draw unemployment from Employer 1 because taking a better job was a legitimate reason to quit and Employer 2 let me go because the SOB was in a financial mess; I was not let go for cause. Employer appealed the payment of unemployment, but the state ruled in may favor.

In my state (Michigan, also an at-will state), she certainly can’t get her job back after walking off the job - that’s called quitting. And from an employer’s perspective (mine) somebody who under-performs, then walks off the job when called on the carpet for it, is highly unlikely to be kept on as an employee and isn’t due UE.

I think the state would agree with me but I’m no expert on UE or disability laws.

I will say that a woman successfully claiming “wonky hormone levels” as a disability, would make many employers jittery about hiring women who for one reason or another may be concerned about having to accomodate hormonal women. I say this as a post menopausal women, BTW. I may not have hired ME during the depths of menopause - I was hot, cold, forgetful, emotional, cranky and moody as well as being under a doctor’s care - but I never thought of myself as disabled and kept it together at work.

If it’s a true mental health issue with your friend, parity with physical health problems is lacking and sometimes unfair, so she could have an argument there.

FWIW, ‘wonky hormone levels’ could be something like hypothyroidism which will resolve completely if treated with inexpensive medication. Further, I would be surprised if the friend would have told a (US) employer as I thought there were all sorts of HIPPA (HIIPA??) laws regarding that sort of thing.

Of course that has nothing at all to do with walking off your job which is pretty much quitting, even in Canada.

True, we need more deets from the OP…it could be completely “medical”. I had a woman working for me for several years who’d had a complete hysterectomy in her early 20s, and had some fairly profound hormonal stuff going on; she had her levels tweaked on a regular basis.

I think HIPPA only governs what a medical provider can say to a third party.

I didn’t mean to sound unsympathetic; I’m not. Just speaking from an employer’s POV…for every person I hire, there are dozens, probably hundreds, of people who could use that job. I am going to give a job to someone who needs it, who deserves it, and who is valuable to my business. If someone has mental or physical problems that preclude them from doing the job and making me - a small business - money, it’s neither my job nor within my skill-set or ability to fix that. I am neither a social worker nor a medical professional. Handle the health or whatever problem with the appropriate professionals, then come back to apply for your job again.

My former home state of AK (and way back in the late 80s early 90s) you could collect UE if you quit, but you had to wait 6 weeks to file (or collect, or something).

She should still apply for unemployment, just as a shot in the dark. Sometimes it’s granted even if you quit.

You’re thinking of ADA - which requires reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities. I’m not sure how much protection there is for wonky hormone levels but the law does support employees with requests like a special computer desk, getting accessibility software, having ramps installed, etc.

I agree. Go ahead and apply and see what happens. If she had screamed “I QUIT!” as she walked out the door, then she definitely quit. But had she just walked out without saying she quit, maybe she can make a case that she was terminated. Worth a shot to go for the unemployment benefits.

The law recognizes something called “constructive termination.” This is when an employee quits, but the reason she quit is because her work situation was so untenable that it was literally impossible to take. That is, she was “really” fired, but the way the boss did it was to make her life so miserable that she walked out because she couldn’t face another day. Whether the actual environment in which your friend worked rises to such a level is something she’s going to have to work through with a lawyer, licensed in your jurisdiction, with full knowledge of the facts and experience in employment law. Similarly, there may be some protections for people temporarily unable to work because of medical conditions, but again, that’s something that your friend needs to investigate with counsel.


Agree with definitely talking to a lawyer licensed in your friend’s jurisdiction, but constructive discharge is probably a no-go. The things you have to demonstrate to prove constructive discharge are so absurd that its pretty much a dead letter right from the start. Each jurisdiction might be different, but at least from what I’ve seen in EEOC cases, to prove constructive discharge you almost have to show physical assault or at least a level of intimidation/interference that it makes your work impossible to perform. This is mainly with Title VII type cases, so I don’t what each individual state protections are out there.

I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of being “disciplined” at work as if I was some sort of errant child.

Hehe. Thats the EEOC term, incidentally. Discipline* for writeups, verbal warnings and the like. Discharge for termination/layoff. They have a whole list of terms that are kind of unique and weird.
*I have to write discipline about 100-200 times on a daily basis for memos and letters and like. Have not once spelled it correctly the first time. Odd mental block for me.

Welll when you act like a child