"If you don't like it, you can quit;" How quits differ from discharges

by Larry Clark

This case involves a waitress who complained to the cook that he was putting too much grease on the vegetables.  The cook, who was the waitress' supervisor, replied:  "If you don't like it, you can quit."

The burden of proof generally rests upon the party that first moves to end the employment relationship.  Whether the waitress is found eligible for benefits will be based on the following information:

First, did the employee quit, or was she discharged?  If the employee voluntarily quit, then it will be up to her to prove that her reasons for quitting were compelling.  If the employee was discharged, then the burden shifts to the employer to show compelling cause for termination.

Clearly, if the waitress leaves under these circumstances, she is the moving party and will be deemed to have voluntarily quit.  The cook did not ask her to leave; it was her decision.  She will, therefore, have the burden of proving that her reasons for quitting were compelling.

Would the waitress be found eligible for unemployment benefits?  Probably not.  The waitress' eligibility for benefits would depend on her ability to prove that her reason for leaving was compelling -- in this case, she would likely have to convince the state unemployment agency that the excess grease on the vegetables represented a serious health hazard.

Larry Clark is a principle member of Employer Advocates LLC, and has been in the unemployment cost control industry for 35 years.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in the examples given on this page is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice.  There are no guarantees that a particular state unemployment adjudicator will rule as others have in the cited examples.  Individuals seeking legal advice concerning the handling of similar matters should consult with their attorney, rather than relying upon the information given.

The purpose of this document is to educate clients and potential clients about unemployment compensation. While some effort has been made to address the many differences in laws and procedures in the 53 different jurisdictions (each of the fifty states plus Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands), the primary purpose of this presentation is to review some basic principles shared by many jurisdictions.