04/16/2012 06:03 pm ET

Talmage Lord, Forced To Quit, Wins Right To Jobless Benefits

It may look better to quit your job instead of getting fired, but you may have a hard time getting unemployment benefits.

Talmage Lord, of New Jersey, was forced to resign from his job as a salesman in June 2009 when his car broke down and he couldn't get to work, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. The state rejected Lord's claim for unemployment benefits, arguing that he had decided to leave his job. After Lord waged a protracted legal battle, the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled on Wednesday that he had not chosen to resign, and is therefore eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

From the Superior Court's ruling:

When appellant advised the supervisor that he was not sure he would have a car to perform his work the following Monday, the supervisor told appellant that he "had to resign" from his employment "effective immediately." Appellant testified that he did not want to leave his job, but felt he "had no choice." Thus, based on the Friday conversation with his supervisor, appellant considered himself to have been "terminated."

Lord is among many workers who have appealed their state's decision to deny them unemployment benefits. About half of all former Massachusetts municipal workers that were denied unemployment benefits and submitted appeals to the state's unemployment appeals board won jobless benefits through the appeal process, according to the Boston Herald. People that won jobless benefits include a sexting cop who resigned and a secretary who quit and moved to New York.

About 370,000 people per week apply for unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department. In the first week of April, 380,000 people applied for unemployment benefits: a surprise 3.5 percent increase from the week before.

All U.S. states disqualify workers from receiving unemployment benefits if they quit their jobs, are fired for misconduct, or refuse suitable work, according to the Labor Department. Workers that are laid off are eligible for unemployment benefits.

In some states, workers that are fired for poor performance are eligible for unemployment benefits. In Michigan, for example, workers "fired for incompetence or inability, rather than for willful misconduct" are not denied unemployment benefits. But the Ohio government stipulates that workers can be denied unemployment benefits if they "neglected the responsibilities of the job" or "performed the work carelessly."