Want to Quit Your Job? Frequently Asked Questions
Deciding to leave your job can be a big step. Unfortunately, people tend to focus solely on the decision itself and fail to consider any of the related consequences. Whether you are quitting to pursue a better opportunity or simply because you are unhappy in your job, an employee rights lawyer can help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls so that your transition to a new job is as smooth as possible.
Can I Sue My Employer for Wrongful Termination if I Quit?
You cannot sue your employer for wrongful termination if you voluntarily quit your job. However, you may be able to pursue a claim for discrimination, harassment, or other violations of your rights after you quit. That said, you should seek advice from an employee rights lawyer before quitting if you believe your rights have been violated, as you may be in a much better position to assert your rights as an employee.
If you decide to quit before pursuing a claim against your employer, you should be very careful about signing any agreements. These agreements often contain provisions that waive any claims you may have against your employer and release them from any liability.
Do I Have to Provide Two Weeks Notice?
California is an “at-will” employment state. This is most often mentioned in the context of an employer’s ability to terminate an employee at any time and for any reason. However, it also applies to employees, meaning that they always have the right to quit their job at any time and for any reason (including no reason at all). As a result, there is no legal obligation to provide your employer with two weeks’ notice prior to quitting your job.
Workers who are subject to an employment contract, however, may need to provide notice prior to quitting. You should therefore carefully review your employment contract before quitting. If it does require that you provide notice, you should follow the process as laid out in your contract.
In addition, you should also be aware that oral employment contracts are recognized under California law. Oral contracts can be problematic for many reasons, primarily that they typically lack any specific detail. Nonetheless, you should give careful consideration to any discussion of what would be expected of you in the event that you decide to resign from your position. Ultimately, you may want to consult with an employee rights lawyer before quitting to better understand your rights and obligations.
Do I Have to Provide Notice if the Employee Handbook Requires It?
Any employer’s policy requiring notice is unenforceable unless it is specifically incorporated into your employment contract.
Are There Any Advantages to Providing Notice Before Quitting?
The primary advantage of providing notice prior to quitting involves the payment of your wage. If you provide at least 72 hours’ notice prior to quitting, your employer must pay you all of the wages they owe you on your final day of employment. Otherwise, they must pay you your final wages within 72 hours after quitting. If you are concerned that your employer may try to avoid paying what they owe you, providing notice is one way to ensure that you leave with your paycheck in hand on your last day. Should they refuse to pay what you are owed, they may be liable for any unpaid wages as well as various penalties.
Wages aside, providing notice prior to quitting can help protect your reputation and preserve any valuable relationships you may have. Remember, you can quit for any reason, and providing notice prior to leaving may allow you to leave on good terms. In turn, your employer may be willing to give you a good reference in the future.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Providing Notice Prior to Quitting?
The primary disadvantage to providing notice is that your employer is not obligated to keep you on until the last day of the notice period. In other words, they can decide to terminate you immediately upon receipt of your notice, even if you indicated that you would stay for two weeks. In the event that this happens, they must pay you your wages immediately. Therefore, do not count on those wages that you would be owed during the notice period.
As an aside, you should also be aware that you will likely be unable to sue for wrongful termination even if your employer decides to terminate you immediately upon receipt of your notice.
Can I Receive Unemployment Benefits if I Quit?
Generally speaking, employees who quit cannot receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are reserved for those who are terminated or laid off.
That said, people who quit for “good cause” may be able to claim unemployment benefits. A good reason for quitting, however, does not necessarily mean that you have “good cause.” Examples of “good cause” for quitting that may entitle you to unemployment benefits include the following:
- Quitting to take care of a family member who is seriously ill
- Quitting to relocate with your spouse
- Quitting to avoid domestic violence
You may also be able to claim unemployment benefits if you can demonstrate that your quitting was actually the result of constructive termination. Constructive termination is when an employer intentionally makes your working conditions so intolerable that you have no choice but to resign. If you believe you may be entitled to unemployment benefits, you may want to seek guidance from an employee rights lawyer.
What Happens to My Vacation Time When I Quit?
Your employer is required to pay you for any accrued, unused vacation time that you may have under California law. This should be included in your final paycheck.
What About My Health Insurance?
You are entitled to remain on your employer’s group health insurance plan even if you quit. Often referred to as “COBRA” coverage (an acronym for “Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act,” the federal statute that guarantees this Act), you must pay the premiums out of your own pocket. Coverage is available for you and your family, typically for up to 36 months.
Questions About Quitting? Contact Attorneys for Employees
Whether you are considering quitting or have already quit and have run into problems, we can help you navigate your options. Contact us today to discuss your case and how we can help.