Earlier this summer,* the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that recognized the economic reality for workers who are unemployed. Under Oregon law, people who lose their jobs generally cannot receive unemployment benefits unless the employer was the one that decided to terminate the worker from employment (meaning the employee was fired or laid off), or the employee quit, but with “good cause.” ORS 657.176 .
In Aguilar v. Employment Dept., the Court of Appeals held that an employee has “good cause” to quit when the employer is about to fire or lay off the employee, but the employee quits instead to preserve the ability to get another job. The decision came in the case of a teacher who was told that she was about to be let go because she didn’t quite have all the credentials to stay on the job. But the school district and her union also told her that if she was let go, she would have a very hard time getting a job at another school–unless she resigned. So she did.
Once the teacher applied for unemployment benefits, the school district said, basically, “she wasn’t fired, and she didn’t have a good reason to quit, so she shouldn’t get benefits.” Luckily, the court rejected that argument. It understood that, especially for teachers, once you get pushed out of your job, it might be hard to find another job in your field ever again. And that is indeed a good reason to leave the job you have, especially when you’re about to lose it anyway.
*It is still technically summer until tomorrow.