Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits is based on two general criteria: earnings and the reason for the termination.
The law bases earnings eligibility on wages paid to a claimant during the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding the effective claim date.
Separation eligibility is based on MGL c. 151A, sect. 25(e)(1) and sect. 25(e)(2).
According to the first section of this law it is still possible to qualify for unemployment benefits even if you resign from a job. The standard is difficult since the employee has to show that no reasonable person would have continued to work under the conditions that the employee was being required to work under and that the employee did everything that a reasonable person would do to correct the problem or condition before they resigned. This legal concept is called a “Constructive Discharge.”
The second section of the law involves an employee who is terminated from the job involuntarily: ie. “fired.” Here the burden of proof is on the employer to prove that the discharge of the employee was attributable to a knowing violation of a reasonable and uniformly enforced rule of the company, or due to deliberate misconduct by the employee in willful disregard of the employer’s interest. Therefore, just because you are fired doesn’t mean you are automatically eligible for benefits.
In both of these cases, i.e. either being fired or quitting, it is often advisable to consult with an employment attorney prior to contacting the unemployment office. The attorney may be able to help you present the facts of your departure from the company in a light most favorable to you. This may result in you having a better chance of getting the unemployment benefits. Consulting the Department of Employment and Training website will also aid in preparation of the application.
Law Office of Stark & Heiner
805 Turnpike St. Suite 101
North Andover, MA 01845