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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Unemployment Blues

Having wrestled, and having been overcome, by the unemployment benefits angels of the State of Washington, I have the following report of the battle:

I applied for benefits in the middle of April. I filled out the application and began making weekly claims at that time. Additionally I was required to fill out job logs detailing at least three employment contacts per week. Within three weeks I received a letter of denial, explaining that my reasons for quitting the position were not within the legal guidelines for being awarded benefits. According to the relevant RCW, quitting due to an inappropriate change in job description is not sufficient reason.

I appealed the denial, and today (almost two months since first applying) I had my telephone trial with an appeals judge in Olympia. After calling in at 8:50 AM, the trial began at 10:30 and lasted until 11:30. I based my appeal on two acceptable provisions within the RCW: That I left the position due to health consequences (depression and anxiety) that stemmed directly from changes in my job description; and that I was unable to perform my job within the ethical standards of the National Association of Social Workers due to the same changes.

Toward the end of the trial, the judge made it clear that the WACs that govern the RCWs demand that if you quit due to medical necessity, you must first provide written documentation of that disability to your employer so that they have an opportunity to accommodate your needs. This makes sense, and also completely scuttled the bulk of my appeal. The fact that I didn't quite understand the nature or extent of the psychological toll I was enduring at the time of my resignation did not matter.

By the time I attempted to address the ethical concerns I had about the changes in job description, the judge's language made it pretty clear that she thought this case was settled and was already writing her decision summary in her mind. And although she didn't explicitly state what her decision would be, everything she said implied that the decision would go against me.

So be it. I didn't count on getting any benefits when I quit. I quit to save my sanity and to pursue greater professional fulfillment. I quit because those who love me gave me strength by telling me that they believed in me and would support me. I quit in order to force a next chapter in my life to reveal itself. Maybe now that this unemployment benefit segue has resolved itself, that will come sooner rather than later.

And after listening to my former director's testimony during the phone trial... "I was quit when I walked in here. I'm twice as quit now."



At 6/04/2010 12:42:00 PM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

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