In Ohio, you may be eligible for unemployment even if you quit your last job. However, you must show that you had just cause to leave your job. This has been interpreted to mean that you must show that an ordinarily careful person in similar circumstances would have quit. Although this might not sound hard to prove, it can be very difficult to meet the state's definition.
You Must Notify Your Employer of the Problem Before You Quit
If you resign, you may have to show that you made the employer aware of the problems and gave the employer sufficient opportunity to correct them before you quit. For example, if you quit for safety reasons, you may need to prove that you notified the employer of the hazard and gave the employer time to correct it before leaving your job.
You may have to show that you tried other options short of resigning. This is true even if the problem is a medical condition. For example, you may have to show that you notified your employer of your medical restrictions and gave the employer a chance to provide modified work.
Even if you are being subjected to sexual harassment, you may need to show that you made a complaint and gave the employer time to take action.
Generally, if you quit due to transportation issues or family obligations, you will not qualify for unemployment compensation. If you quit to accept another job, you will also be ineligible for benefits (although if you lose your new job, you may become eligible).
Quitting Before You Get Fired
What if an employer calls you in and says, "Sign this resignation, or you are fired"? When an employee quits in anticipation of an inevitable discharge, the issue becomes whether the employer had just cause to terminate the employee. If the employer did, then the employee will not qualify for compensation. However, if the employer did not have just cause to terminate, then the employee may well qualify for compensation despite the resignation.
However, it must really be inevitable that the employee was going to lose the job. If you are given the ultimatum to resign or be fired, you can meet this standard. However, if you quit after you were disciplined or put on a performance improvement plan, it will be harder to qualify for benefits. If, for example, you were able to improve your performance, you may have been able to keep your job.
There are many situations in which an ordinary person might quit a job, but that isn't enough to qualify you for unemployment benefits. You must have just cause to quit, as defined by Ohio law, to be eligible for unemployment. Undoubtedly, many would think it was reasonable to resign immediately after being groped by a supervisor, or to follow a spouse to better job, or to stay home with a young child. However, you would likely not be eligible for benefits if you resigned in these circumstances. If you have questions about whether you will be eligible for unemployment after quitting your job, speak to an employment attorney.
To learn more, see our section on Eligibility Rules for Unemployment Benefits.