Employers often mistakenly believe that an employee who quits employment precludes the former employee from obtaining unemployment benefits in South Dakota. The general rule does, indeed, provide as such. However, exceptions exist.

First, the quitting must be “voluntary”. Thus if the employee is given the option to resign or be fired, then employee is still entitled to unemployment benefits.  Second, the quitting must be without “good cause”. More common “good cause” reasons include (1) the employment is hazardous to health as certified by a qualified medical provider; (2) relocation by the employee was required for continued employment; (3) the employer breached or substantially altered the employment contract; (4) the employer substantially disregard of the standards of behavior; (5) the employee’s religious belief mandated the quitting and no reasonable accommodation was offered before the employee quit; (6) the employee had to quit to be protected from domestic abuse and s/he did return to the abuser; and (7) the employee quit to be with a spouse who was reassigned military duties. Thus, employers need to make sure they are fulfilling their duties to employees, such as keeping a workplace free from unlawful harassment and/or discrimination, discussing religious accommodations where the issue arises, providing a safe environment for the employee to work, etc. Doing so will protect against an employer’s experience-rating account being subjected to benefit charge.

This blog was written by Lisa Marso.  If you have any questions or want to discuss this issue further, please contact Lisa at lkmarso@boycelaw.com.