Leaving A Job Due To Job-related Illness

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about job-related illness:

I live in CT and am a quality control inspector in a tea distribution center. My primary job responsibility keeps me in direct contact with the teas, most of which have strong flavor additives. My eye doctor has been treating me for 3+ years for an ongoing eye condition, which he strongly feels is job related. I have had to use steroid eye drops most of this time to deal with the problem, but am told it is not in my best interest to do so on a long-term basis. What is the wisest way to go about leaving my job so that I will qualify for unemployment benefits? Does a letter accompany a written resignation from my doctor sufficient? Or do I first need to give my employer an opportunity to offer me another position, which I already know would not alleviate the problem, since there is airborne tea dust virtually everywhere in the facility?

Signed, Eye To Eye

Dear Eye To Eye:

Our site doesn’t provide medical or legal advice. Nor are we experts in matters addressed by Human Resources. Your question is not simple because you want unemployment because conditions of your job hurt your eye health and you aren’t seeing permanent disability.

To learn the approved protocol and the exact criteria that apply to your claim, visit the website for the Department of Industrial Relations or the Department of Labor for the state where you will be applying and contact that Department directly. Also you might Ask a Lawyer Online NowLaw.JustAnswer.comThese are questions your company’s Human Resources and/or Personnel should be able to answer. I assume your employer withheld unemployment benefits on your behalf prior to becoming unemployed. To receive unemployment benefits you must also be available to work and are searching for a job. In your query, you don’t address this. When you apply for unemployment, you will be asked to provide the reason why you are no longer employed. Before benefits are awarded, your former employer will be contacted to verify the reason you gave. In order to qualify, you must not have lost your job as the result of your own actions. (See Qualifying for Unemployment by Mary White M.A., SPHR http://jobs.lovetoknow.com/Qualifying_for_Unemployment)

I’m sure you are concerned about having work that will not hurt your eyes; therefore, while you are currently employed, wouldn’t it be wise to obtain a second opinion? Then if the medical advice is consistent that your job harms your eyesight, engage your employer in dealing constructively with this matter. In these difficult times, your effort to learn what will be approved is evidence that you know it is best not to leave a job without getting all the facts. Please let us know what you learn. It could help others in similar situations. I my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS doesn’t really apply to your situation. But its larger meaning suggests that whatever job you hold is not just a solo operation. Your health is interdependent and inter-related to the health of your workplace.

William Gorden