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For employers and employees alike it is becoming apparent that there is a trend of employees leaving their workplaces. In Texas, the at-will doctrine allows an employee to leave for any reason or no reason, but sometimes resignations can be a bit more complicated. For employees it is complicated because resignations can be and should be used strategically rather than a simple decision to leave a job. To use a resignation strategically, there are a few things to consider and think about before pulling the plug. 

First and foremost, leaving a job can evoke questions about eligibility for unemployment benefits. In Texas, resignations, except for narrow exceptions related to “good cause connected with the work,” can be fatal to an application for unemployment benefits. While every case is different, resignations likely spell the end for unemployment benefit eligibility. Yet, it ultimately comes down to the Texas Workforce Commission’s decision. Therefore, if unemployment benefits are part of the financial planning underpinning a resignation, it is important to keep this in mind.

If unemployment benefits are not a concern or can be overlooked, then resignation becomes a good option to leave an employer on amicable terms. Outside of a contractual obligation, there is generally no notice period requirement on resigning. Nonetheless, there are practical steps to take before submitting a notice of resignation to protect your best interest. By way of example, medical procedures that can be done while health insurance coverage is still fully paid by your employer, figuring out finances in case you cannot find a different job, how a resignation might look at your next employer, and finally, contractual obligations. The contractual obligations can be tricky and are typically governed by an employment contract that an employee signed at the beginning of employment. Contracts that govern resignations or leaving a job without cause sometimes have requirements like a notice period, a method of giving that notice like certified mail to a specific address, or even set out specific information that needs to be in a notice. Some contracts even have promises of severance. 

On March 11, 2021, President Biden Signed the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) into law. The ARPA extends the unemployment benefits that were available under the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) and the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act, (both of which were set to expire after March 14, 2021) through September 6, 2021. 

To reap the benefits of the ARPA, you must meet your state’s eligibility requirements. In the state of Texas, if COVID-19 is the only reason you cannot work, you are considered able to work according to the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”). Hence, in order to remain eligible for benefits, you must be able and available to work and search for work as instructed by the TWC. Unless you are exempt, the number of work search activities you must complete and report each week is determined by your county of residence. 

However, according to the TWC, each benefits case is evaluated on an individual basis. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the TWC has compiled a list of reasons benefits would be granted even if you refuse suitable work. Among those reasons are if you are 65 years or older, and/or have a medical condition, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or a weakened immune system, or at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, and/or if someone in your household is at high risk for contracting COVID-19. 

What is mediation?

You’ve filed a complaint with the EEOC, OSHA, or the Texas Workforce Commission and were told that your case will be referred to mediation. Or your own employer’s internal grievance process includes mediation as an option. But what is mediation? Is it a good option?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR could mean many different things, but in short, it means settling disputes without having to litigate the case in court. Examples of ADR include mediation, arbitration, or even direct negotiations.

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