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Quit or Fired - How the law views a separation

Photo: Kay HendryI frequently hear that an employee was given the opportunity to quit rather than be fired.  Most people do not know what the law is on the issue and are unsure of what to do.  The following are some reasons why quitting may prove to be the better option. 

First, it looks better on your resume if you quit rather than being fired.  Second, the Unemployment Agency knows this situation comes up quite often.  They don’t look at what the parties called the “separation”. They look at whether or not the claimant “voluntarily” quit.  They also look at who initiated the separation from employment.

When the employer gives you the choice to quit or be fired, this is not “voluntary”.  The Courts have called this a “Hobson’s Choice”.  A “Hobson’s Choice” means no real choice at all.  The term has various origins.  I heard that it came from a character in a Charles Dickens novel named Mr. Hobson.  In any event the Unemployment Agency considers this a firing and not a quit.

A word of caution; make sure that there is something in writing that the employer gave you this choice.  You do not want the employer to later claim there was no discussion of firing.  I’ve even had cases where a year later an employer claimed an employee quit rather than was laid off.  So, be prepared and keep any employment documents on file to be safe.

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