Employees who are forced to work in an unsafe or unhealthy environment may be able to collect unemployment benefits. But some employees seem to think that any work-related problems can justify quitting and then getting unemployment. That’s simply not true.
Employees are supposed to take reasonable steps to keep their jobs, and that includes asking for changes if they think the workplace is unsafe. Smart employers respond to such requests and make reasonable changes.
Recent case: Vladimir Khimchenko repaired small desktop copying machines for Superior Office Systems. When business declined, his employer transferred him to the warehouse, where he assembled larger machines.
Khimchenko complained that his new work environment was unpleasant. He said the building was either too hot or too cold, which aggravated his arthritis and high blood pressure. He also said heavy lifting caused him to injure his back.
To accommodate his needs, Superior gave him an air-conditioned and heated office within the warehouse so he could control the temperature. The company also installed a ramp to help with the lifting.
Still, Khimchenko was not satisfied. He quit, allegedly because he couldn’t “take it anymore.” Then he applied for unemployment compensation, but was turned down because he quit without a good reason.
He appealed, but the Superior Court ruled that Khimchenko didn’t have a valid job-related reason to quit. (Khimchenko v. Board of Review, No. A-5055-08, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, 2010)