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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Default Unsanitary Working Conditions and Unemployment Compensation

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: PA

    There are several aspects of my workplace that make it very unsanitary and unsafe. While I have been actively job searching to try and get out of there as soon as possible, it has gotten to the point where I am contemplating resigning and trying to claim unemployment. However, I can't afford to quit without another job lined up, so I would only quit if there is a high chance I could get unemployment. I am aware it is extremely difficult to get unemployment if you voluntarily leave a job, so I wanted to see if my situation would be determined a "necessitous and compelling" reason to resign. If I do not stand a chance of getting UC, I would need to stay until I find another job.

    There has been black mold at my workplace for over 6 months. It is so humid in our employee bathroom that I physically gag when I need to use it. I don't have a chronic condition like asthma exacerbated by mold, but I have noticed myself getting sick more frequently than I ever have; whether the mold plays a part in that, I do not know. Management was informed about the mold and it was never fully remediated. Our maintenance team was seen painting over the black mold, rather than hiring a mold remediation team. No matter how many staff members bring it up, they have not taken appropriate steps to treat the mold, and now it is spread to multiple rooms in my workplace.

    There also is a bed bug infestation. This is a healthcare facility where patients who may lead unsanitary lives come for treatment, however, extermination teams have not sprayed in a timely manner.

    Finally, the drop ceiling tiles are unstable. One of my coworkers was hit with a large falling ceiling tile that collapsed due to saturation with water and mildew. Plaster showered all over the room and on my coworker. I am concerned more ceiling tiles may be unstable, because there are others that also are saturated with water due to a leak. This was reported, and while maintenance cleaned up the fallen plaster, the other ceiling tiles were never replaced and the leak was never repaired.

    Do I stand a chance at getting unemployment if I resign, or am I better off just dealing with the safety risks until I find another job?

    I will also add that my employer is known to contest unemployment claims (even in straightforward cases, like when several people in a department were laid off for budgetary reasons).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    Default Re: Unsanitary Working Conditions and Unemployment Compensation

    You'll be denied UC right out of the gate regardless of the reason. All your boss has to say is "He quit and his claims are bogus." Then you'll have to file an appeal because the employer won't have to prove anything the first time around and your claims will fall on deaf because the front line bureaucrats are trained to say no.

    Way to risky. The appeal process could take months and there's no guarantee.

    Find another job and then quit.

    I suggest you report the conditions to OSHA.

    You can also report the conditions to the state agency that licenses the facility.

    And to the city health department.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: Unsanitary Working Conditions and Unemployment Compensation

    I agree with aj, the filing of such a claim would NOT be likely to bring you any sort of quick source of money. Because it is very likely you'd be initially denied benefits, would have to keep certifying and would have an appeals process to go through. In the best circumstances, with a completely approvable clean claim, it would be three to four weeks before you would reasonably expect a first check. With an initial denial and a hearing such as you are very likely going to get in this case, there's more six to eight weeks, or longer, with no guarantee of ever being approved.

    That said, there's also that you stand a very very miniscule chance of being approved at all. The first question when a person has quit a job is "Have you exhausted every reasonable alternative to quitting the job?" And that just doesn't mean that people are always pointing out to them that this stuff in the walls bothers them, and you're sick "a lot" and you think it might be the mold. They require quite a bit of demonstration that you've tried to resolve the problem and your employer is truly being unreasonable about it. To you personally, not simply that it's a dirty place to work and you've told them it is bad for you and they don't care.

    And you have significantly weakened your argument in regard to a u.i. claim by doing what is called the "kitchen sink" maneuver. Okay your job is untenable and you quit because there is mold growing on the walls. The mold is making you sick. You have complained about the mold, the employer has not doing anything to alleviate the situation. One nice clear specific issue. That's why you quit the job. AND then we throw in they have BEDBUGS there. AND they have dropped ceiling tiles that fall over and have hit other employees in the head. All these are maintenance and possibly safety issues, but they weaken your specific reason why you found it necessary to quit your job, see? Your chances of being approved for unemployment benefits in this situation, I would see as very very small.

    So, as the others suggest, you should definitely report the conditions to OSHA, and to the state agency that licenses the facility if, as I suspect it is a health care facility. You can even do that anonymously while working there before you quit your job. The investigating agency will not tell the employer who made the complaint. About the most common way they find out who did it is that people will tell their co workers, will brag to others about how they're going to get OSHA after this place. But regardless, I'd hold on to my job until I was ready to move into another one or prepared to go a while without income. Unemployment isn't probably going to help you.

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