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Disabled workers can collect unemployment if denied accommodations they ask for

by on
in Employee Benefits Program,Employment Law,Human Resources

Employees who become disabled, request accommodations that never materialize and then resign may end up getting unemployment compensation. That’s because the Minnesota unemployment comp law says quitting under those circumstances doesn’t cut eligibility to collect benefits.

But if disabled employees fail to request accommodations, they’re out of luck.

Recent case: Robert Ervasti quit his job and applied for unemployment, claiming he left because his employer wouldn’t accommodate his disabilities. Ervasti said he suffered from depression and anxiety and told his boss he felt “stressed.”

The court agreed that Ervasti’s medical problems left him no choice but to quit. But it said that didn’t mean he was automatically qualified for unemployment compensation benefits.

Why? Unfortunately for Ervasti, his employer wasn’t clairvoyant. He never officially told anyone he was disabled and never asked for a reasonable accommodation. Employees can’t just quit without giving their employers the chance to accommodate their medical conditions.

Because the employer didn’t know he was disabled, it couldn’t have denied him an accommodation. The court dismissed the lawsuit. (Ervasti v. County of Hennepin, No. A07-1613, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2008)

Final note: To receive unemployment comp after quitting because of a serious illness or injury, the employee must prove he told his employer about the illness or injury and requested a reasonable accommodation. Then, if the accommodation is denied and the employee still can’t do his job, he can quit and collect unemployment compensation payments.

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