21. Did the Claimant Quit Voluntarily and Without Good Cause Attributable to the Employer?

Employees who quit their job voluntarily and “without good cause attributable to the employing unit or its agents” are subject to disqualification pursuant to G.L. c. 151A, § 25(e)(1). Where claimant are determined to have quit or resigned, the burden of proving eligibility is on the claimant to establish that they left either involuntarily or for good cause attributable to the employer, such that the claimant is unemployed through no fault of their own. Sohler v. Dir. of the Div. of Emp't Sec., 377 Mass. 785, 788 n.1, 388 N.E.2d 299, 301 n. 1 (1979).

In most cases, an employee must make reasonable efforts to maintain the employment relationship before quitting the job, or else the claimant risks that the quit will be treated as voluntary regardless of the underlying reasons. Harassment cases present a notable exception. (See Questions 26 and 27.) The agency position is not uniform on whether a person who is subjected to other violations of law in the workplace must first attempt to resolve the problem before quitting. Arguably, an employer is charged with knowledge of wage-and-hour laws and so should have been aware of the violation. Lee v. O’Leary, Dir. of the Div. of Unemployment Assistance, Quincy District Court Docket No. 0556 CV 2136, (Coven, J.) (11/1/06) (finding that claimant had good cause for quitting where payroll policy resulting in last payment of wages violated Massachusetts wage laws).

Under G.L. c.151A, § 25(e), a claimant should not be disqualified from benefits for quitting a job with an employer to accept new permanent, full-time employment with another employer, and later becomes separated from the new employment for good cause attributable to the new employment unit. BR-0031 0031 53 (7/23/19).; BR-0048 8474 21 (3/29/22) (Claimant who left per-diem job to focus on a full-time job which guaranteed more hours at higher pay not disqualified where they left the instant employer in good faith to accept new employment on a full-time basis and were later laid off from the new employer).