Telling an employee you aren’t satisfied with her work and suggesting you will be looking for a replacement could mean she can quit and get unemployment compensation. You can’t push her to “look for another job” and then hope to avoid an unemployment claim by saying she voluntarily left.
Recent case: Rachel Shuster is a veterinarian who worked for six years until she was informed the clinic owner didn’t want to take her on as a partner when her contract expired. He suggested she seek other employment opportunities, but never said he was going to fire her—though he was actively looking for a replacement.
Shuster gave 60 days’ notice (it was required by her contract) and then filed for unemployment. Her benefits were granted, but the clinic had the decision reversed. It claimed Shuster wasn’t facing imminent discharge when she gave her notice, and therefore had quit voluntarily.
She appealed, and the Superior Court of New Jersey reversed. The court said she was eligible because it was clear she wouldn’t have a job when her contract expired. Therefore, her pre-emptive resignation wasn’t really voluntary. She got the benefits. (Shuster v. Board of Review, Department of Labor, No. A-1880-96T2, Superior Court of New Jersey, 2007)