Order Of Testimony
What You Need To Prove
(In General)
Types Of Quit 

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What You Need To Prove

Burden On The Claimant

In a quit, the employer does not have to prove anything until the claimant has met his burden. Other than a Quit for Better Job, the claimant must show he left work for a good work connected cause and did whatever a reasonable person would do to retain their employment.

The employer should then demonstrate that the claimant was being paid as agreed and document what help was provided to assist the claimant with the job. This could include training, support, equipment, etc.

Also be ready to show if you granted any of their requests to improve their job conditions. Show the contract the claimant signed if he was given new job duties

For More See Types Of Quit 

and  Types Of Documents

The Most Common Reasons Why Claimants Lose At The Hearing

bulletClaimant quit for reason not connected with the work itself.
bulletClaimant quit without following the remedies provided in our handbook/listed in our policies. See Chain Of Command
bulletClaimant did not give us a meaningful opportunity to correct the problem.
bulletClaimant was at fault in part for causing the problem/did not work all available hours, etc
bulletClaimant knew of conditions when she was hired/Accepted them by working for us for so long.
bulletClaimant quit for medical reasons but never went to a doctor. See Medical Reasons

Sometimes the claimant may deny he resigned and say he was terminated. In cases where  the claimant was given poor performance write-ups or other warnings he will have a lot more credibility than the employer. It is common for hearing officers to expect employers to falsely allege a quit when the claimant was in fact terminated.

In such cases, the employer should also prove the claiamnt deserved to be
Discharged, even if no discharge occurred.  For example you could begin your case by stating "The employer maintains that the claimant resigned.  However, we will show that even if he was discharged, the claimant was at fault for such and should not receive benefits. Prior to to leaving the company the claimant violated x rule and received 2 warnings...."

See Types Of Quit 

See Evidence  

See Most Common Mistakes At The Hearing      

Unemployment Insurance Appeals (GA Dept Of Labor)
A Must Read Summary of what employers should know before, during and after the hearing.

GA Employee Handbooks-Drafting and Enforcing Sound Procedures and Policies
What should be in every handbook.

The Unemployment Handbook (by Sheakley Uniservice)
See pages 6-17 for cost control procedures and what to do at the hearing..

The GA DOL Employer's Handbook (Unemployment Law and Other Matters)

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Types Of Quit

Personal Reasons (Always Disqualifies)  Temp Agencies
Job Related Reasons Quit For Better Job
Medical Reasons Mutual Agreement (Lay-off, severance, settlement, etc.
Quit In Lieu Of Discharge, Discharge
In Lieu Of Quit
Examples Of Good & Bad Reasons For Quitting

See also

GA Employee Handbooks-Drafting and Enforcing Sound Procedures and Policies
What should be in every handbook.

The Unemployment Handbook (by Sheakley Uniservice)
See pages 6-17 for cost control procedures and what to do at the hearing..

The GA DOL Employer's Handbook (Some On Quit And Discharge and Other Matters)

Unemployment Insurance Appeals (GA Dept Of Labor)
A Must Read Summary of what employers should know before, during and after the hearing.

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Quit For Better Job

The law treats it differently when one quits for a better job rather than for no job at all. When someone leaves a job and opts to be unemployed. the test is whether prior to quitting, he did whatever a reasonable person would do to resolve the problem. But there is no reasonable person standard in a quit for another job case.

In These Types of Quits The Employer Can Still Be Charged If:

  1. The claimant loses the new job through no fault of his own.
    (i.e. a no fault layoff, discharge, or justified quit),


  2. The claimant never earned 10 times his weekly benefit amount with the new employer;


  3. The last job was deemed to be a better job than the one he resigned from.

For example: Jon worked at Sears for two years and was paid $7 an hour. He then left Sears for a "better" job at Wal-Mart which paid $8 an hour. However, just two weeks into his new job, Jon is laid off through no fault of his own.   Jon's weekly benefit amount is $200. At Wal-Mart he earned only $640.

If Jon files for unemployment, the Department of Labor will first decide if Jon was at fault for losing his last job. If the answer is yes, Jon will be disqualified and not entitled to benefits.

But if Jon is not at fault, the DOL must now determine if Jon earned enough from Wal-Mart to charge them. If he earned less than 10 times his weekly benefit amount,  the DOL will then go back to Sears and conduct the same analysis.

In the example above, Jon was not at fault and never earned 10 times his weekly benefit amount. Thus, the only issue is whether the job at Wal-Mart was a better job than the job at Sears.  In this case, the job at Wal-Mart paid better than the Sears job. Thus, Wal-Mart will be considered a better job and Sears will have to pay for the claimant's unemployment. 

However, what a better job means has yet to be defined by the Georgia courts. For example: suppose the claimant quit for a "better" job that paid less, had fewer hours but was closer to home.  Is this a better job or not?" And who decides this?  The one case on point never defines "better job" and we are given no examples.  See HARRISON v. THURMOND 252 Ga. App. 402;556 S.E.2d 490 (2001).

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HARRISON v. THURMOND 252 Ga. App. 402;556 S.E.2d 490 (2001).

November 13, 2001, Decided

PRIOR HISTORY:    [*1]  Unemployment compensation. DeKalb Superior Court. Before Judge Flake.

DISPOSITION:   Reversed.

JUDGES:   POPE, Presiding Judge. Blackburn, C. J., and Mikell, J., concur.



POPE, Presiding Judge.

Veronica Harrison appeals the superior court's order affirming the Department of Labor's n1 denial of her unemployment compensation benefits. She contends that under the authority of Caldwell v. Hosp. Auth. of Charlton County, 248 Ga. 887 (287 S.E.2d 15) (1982), she is entitled to receive those benefits. We agree and reverse.
The undisputed facts are that, effective October 13, 1999, Harrison quit her employment with Intellisource, Inc. to take a better job with Fletcher Martin Associates. Three weeks later she was involuntarily terminated from her new position. 

The Department held that her separation from  [*2]  Intellisource was the pertinent one for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits, and neither party objected to that holding. But Harrison did appeal the Department's further determination that she was not entitled to benefits with respect to that separation because her reason for quitting was "personal."

In support of that determination, the court below relied -- and the Department now relies -- upon the Department's Rule 300-2-9-.05. That rule states in pertinent part: "An employee who voluntarily quits is to be disqualified unless he/she can show that the employer had changed the terms and conditions of work in a manner that the employee, applying the judgment of a reasonable person, would not be expected to continue that employment." Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 300-2-9-.05. But Harrison contends that that rule conflicts with our Supreme Court's decision in Caldwell, which was decided in 1982, years prior to promulgation of the rule.

In Caldwell, as here, the claimant quit her employment to take a better job, from which she was terminated after a brief period. In that instance, however, the Department determined that the claimant was eligible for benefits with  [*3]  respect to the original separation. The superior court reversed, holding that the finding of eligibility denied the original employer substantive due process because there was no fault on its part. Our Supreme Court, in turn, reversed the superior court, noting that "compulsory contributions for employment security . . . are payable without regard to fault." 248 Ga. at 890. It further noted that the determination in favor of eligibility, under the facts of the case, "bears a substantial relationship to the purpose of the Employment Security Law." Id. The Court stated that the law was designed to provide benefits to involuntarily terminated employees even if their work history includes a position that the employee left voluntarily:

The purpose of the Employment Security Law is to spread and lighten the burden of unemployment by allowing involuntarily unemployed workers to collect benefits based on their work history, even though that work history may encompass a period of employment which the employee voluntarily terminated. . . . Disqualification . . . would have the significant disadvantage of discouraging employees from seeking better opportunities, as the  [*4]  employee apparently did here.
(Emphasis supplied.) Id.
Thus, Rule 300-2-9-.05 as applied in this case conflicts with the holding in Caldwell. And this Court has previously held that a state department or agency is without authority to promulgate a rule that conflicts with a prior judicial interpretation of state law. In Pizza Hut Delivery v. Blackwell, 204 Ga. App. 112 (418 S.E.2d 639) (1992), a workers' compensation case, the employer's position on appeal, relying on a State Board of Workers' Compensation rule, was that tips should not have been included in determining the employee's average weekly wage. But this Court stated that the rule was irrelevant where the definition of "average weekly wage" had been judicially interpreted to include tips:

The wording of Rule 260 (a) is essentially irrelevant. "Average weekly wages" under O.C.G.A. 34-9-260 has been judicially interpreted to include an employee's tips and no rule promulgated by the Board can change that interpretation or qualify it by imposing a limitation that tips must be listed on an employee's W-2 form in order to be includable as a component of "average  [*5]  weekly wages."
(Citation omitted; emphasis supplied.) Id. See also Groover v. Johnson Controls World Svc., 241 Ga. App. 791, 793 (527 S.E.2d 639) (2000) ("The Board cannot establish rules . . . that contradict judicial decisions interpreting the statutory language.").

In Caldwell, under facts substantially identical to those here, our Supreme Court interpreted the Employment Security Law of this state as allowing an employee who left one job to seek a better job opportunity to collect unemployment benefits when the second job terminated through no fault of the employee. 248 Ga. at 890. Therefore, Harrison cannot be denied her benefits simply because she left her job at Intellisource to seek a better position. 

Accordingly, we find that the Department's Rule 300-2-9-.05 is invalid to the extent that it conflicts with Caldwell. Compare Young v. State, 212 Ga. App. 572 (442 S.E.2d 768) (1994) (rule  [*6]  applied to disqualify employee from getting benefits where she gave conflicting reasons for quitting her job).

Judgment reversed.

Blackburn, C. J., and Mikell, J., concur.

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Job Related Reasons
Quitting a job is not an automatic disqualification for UI benefits. But, the burden is on the claimant to show they quit for a good-work connected cause. The claimant must also show they tried to resolve the problem with the employer and that the conditions were so bad that a reasonable person in their situation would also have quit.  In many cases such as when the claimant has trouble with a boss or coworker, this means following
The Chain Of Command.

A good work connected cause may include a material drop in pay or a severe change in job duties, work hours or other job-related conditions.  However, there is no good cause to quit when the salary reduction is not substantial or there is a seasonal or temporary  reduction in pay or work hours.

Good cause can also include harassment or a failure to get along with a supervisor. But whether the claimant had good cause will often depend on the circumstances.   For example, suppose the claimant quit because there was too much stress on the job.   To show good cause, the claimant would have to prove that the stress was something that caused or aggravated an existing medical condition; or, that the stress was  brought about by a material change in the job duties or conditions.  And even then, the claimant could still lose if he made no reasonable attempt to let the employer resolve the problem.

Note: A person who works on commission is being paid as agreed regardless of whether they earn a dime.  Thus, a claimant who quit due to low sales is unlikely to prevail without a showing that the work agreement was somehow altered.. The same goes for those who quit because they never received a raise.

See Department Of Labor Rules For Work Connected Quits

Quits Where The Claimant Will Normally Win

Quits Where The Claimant Will Normally Lose

Was This A Supervisor?

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Medical Reasons
The claimant is most likely to receive benefits when the quit was based on an illness or medical condition that was caused or aggravated by the work. For obvious medical conditions that clearly interfere with the job, the claimant is not required to seek a doctor's advice before quitting.  However, the employer must always be given a chance to provide reasonable accommodations.  For example, the employer can show the claimant refused a leave of absence which would have allowed him to recover. The employer could also show that they tried to accommodate the claimant by assigning him different job duties. Whether or not the employer wins may depend on the specific circumstances of the case.

See Department Of Labor Rules For Medical Quits

Examples of Obvious Conditions Where A Doctor's Advice May Not Be Required

bulletBreaking an arm or leg on a construction site.
bulletObvious chronic foot trouble or swelling when the job requires lots of standing or walking.
bulletSevere allergic reactions caused by the job environment..

Examples of When A Doctor's Advice Is Normally Required
Any non-obvious, mental or physical condition where it's not clear what the condition is or how it will interfere with the work.  Examples include depression, carpal tunnel syndrome,  whiplash, surgical procedures, or any condition that limits heavy lifting, etc.

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Personal Reasons

A work connected cause cannot be a decision based solely on personal choice
. Personal quits include lack of child care, relocating to be with a spouse or leaving work to attend school.  In Georgia, relocating to be with a sick family member or to stay close to a spouse in the military is also considered a personal choice.

Quits Where The Claimant Will Normally Win

Quits Where The Claimant Will Normally Lose

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Examples Of Good And Bad Reasons For Quitting

Examples of Quits Where The Claimant Would Normally Be Denied

bulletMy car broke down/was repossessed. (Claimant is responsible for getting to work).
bulletI quit the job because I needed to find childcare. (Personal Choice)
bulletI didn't get along with my supervisor, (when his conduct was not outrageous).
bulletThe job's a dead end so I moved on. (But See Quit For Better Job)
bulletThe job was too stressful but my job conditions were the same as when hired. (No doctor's Note)
bullet My spouse had to move so I moved with him. (Military relocations are disqualified in GA.  The one exception is where the military spouse was assigned abroad and then reassigned elsewhere. In that case, the other spouse may qualify for benefits).
bulletThey reduced my pay from $11/hr to $10hr.  (May not be a material change).
bulletThey never gave me a raise. (Working As Agreed)
bulletDecided it's time I go back to school.  (Personal Choice)
bulletI worked on commissions and business was slow (You were being paid as agreed).
bulletThe conditions at work were so outrageous I quit without giving my employer a chance to correct the problem (almost always disqualifies).
bulletI quit to relocate elsewhere. (Not Work Connected/Personal Choice).

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Examples Of Quits Where The Claimant Would Normally Get Benefits
(In almost every case, the employer must still be told of the problem and given a chance to correct it.)  
bulletI was being sexually harassed by a supervisor.  
bulletI Quit For Better Job (New Law!!!!!!)
bulletMy doctor said I could no longer work there as it was aggravating a medical condition (better have a doctor's note!!!!)
bulletI was asked to do an illegal or immoral act (I never did this act before and I quit almost immediately afterwards).  
bulletThe job was too stressful and the stress was caused by a material change in my job conditions. (depends on the type of changes and how long the claimant worked under them).
bulletThey would have fired me anyway but instead, gave me the option to quit.  (Claimant still get benefits if they would have been fired for a non-disqualifying reason).
bulletMy job duties and pay changed dramatically and even with training I could never be able to do the job. (Inquiry would be into whether you've ever accepted a similar job there with the same low pay and why you couldn't have been trained for this job).
bulletThe Temp Agency stopped giving me work. I kept calling them but was never given any assignments substantially within my pay range. (Warning! After ten weeks of collecting unemployment, you must be willing to accept jobs with substantially lower pay).  

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Quit In Lieu Of Discharge&Vice Versa
Quit Before Being Discharged
Discharged Prior To Quitting

Not Clear If A Quit Or Discharge

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Quit Before Being Discharged
If the claimant quits because he will be discharged anyway, the separation will be treated as a discharge. See Elizabeth v. Caldwell, 160 Ga. App. 549, 287 S.E.2d 590(1981).  However, such will not be treated as a discharge if the events that could get him discharged had not yet occurred. Key is whether the discharge would be inevitable or was simply a possibility. 

Examples: Quit Where The Discharge Is A Near Certainty

  1. "I quit because they were investigating whether or not I stole corporate funds."
    This would be treated as a discharge as the alleged act had already occurred and could clearly result in a termination.

  2. On November 1st Joe Blake is told  "Mr. Blake, your performance is terrible and your last day will be Friday November 15th.  Enraged, Mr. Blake quits that very day and files for unemployment.

Example: Quit Where Discharge May Not Occur
I quit because my test scores were under 85 percent and I knew I couldn't score an 85 on the next test. (The employer has a policy where anyone with under an 85 test average is terminated.)

In this case, the act that could lead to discharge has not yet occurred. The claimant simply quit in anticipation of a future event and merely speculates she won't pass the test.  In most cases this will be deemed a quit.  The exception is if the claimant had such low test scores that she could never average an 85 even if she scored a 100 on the last test.  In that case, the only issue would be if the discharge was a near certainty.  For example: if the employer automatically fires those with under an 85, there would be no way for the claimant to get an 85. Thus the case would be treated as a discharge.

On the other hand, if the employer allows for retraining and does not have an automatic discharge policy, then the discharge would not be certain.  Thus in the later example, the separation would be treated as a quit.

Discharged Prior To Quitting
Sometimes the claimant gives two weeks notice but is immediately shown the door.
This type of case involves both a quit and a discharge.  The quit occurs whenever  the claimant voluntarily stops working for the employer.   But if the employer makes the claimant leave earlier than intended, this part of the case will be deemed as a discharge.


Jon is a truck driver who wants to go back to school to become a hairdresser. On January 1st he comes to his boss and says "Boss I resign. Here's my two weeks notice."  Furious at Jon's obvious disloyalty, the Boss screams "You get the hell out of here right now!!!!" Jon is then immediately escorted off the premises.  The next day he files for unemployment.

In a mixed case like this, the employer could easily win on the quit while losing on the discharge.

To try this case, the hearing officer will first look at the discharge. In this example, the claimant did nothing wrong and simply announced he was quitting. At the point he was told to leave, he was fired unjustly and should be allowed benefits for the two weeks he would otherwise have worked.

The quit however, is another matter. Here the claimant resigned for personal reasons, i.e. to become a hairdresser. Thus, based on the quit he will not receive benefits except for the two weeks where he otherwise would have worked.

 Quit In Lieu Of Discharge & Discharge In Lieu Of Quit

























Elizabeth v. Caldwell
In Caldwell, The Court held that:

  1. "An employee has not left her employment `voluntarily without good cause` if she chooses not to work during a part or all of the period between notice of termination and the date of termination set by the employer." p.806.

  2. "Where the employee is otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, his leaving work after he was given definite notice will not deprive him of those benefits during the period of involuntary unemployment." p.806.

 Quit In Lieu Of Discharge & Discharge In Lieu Of Quit

Quit Before Being Discharged