Losing a job is scary and can be stressful. If you or someone you know is thinking about applying or has been denied unemployment benefits, speak to one of our attorneys for a risk-free consultation. Our attorneys are here to help whether you are just beginning the process or working through an appeal.
The first step in determining eligibility for unemployment benefits is to look at the reason you are no longer employed. Did you resign, were you laid off or were you terminated. Each scenario carries with it different criteria for eligibility.
Generally, if you resign you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. However, if you can prove you had “good cause attributable to the employer” to resign, then you may be eligible. Good cause has been interpreted by the courts to mean a reason which would be deemed by reasonable men and women valid and not indicative of an unwillingness to work. Attributable to the employer means produced, caused, created or as a result of actions by the employer. While on its face this seems simple, it is often the cause of appeals.
LAID OFF/LACK OF WORK
If you are laid off (either permanently or temporarily) due to a company downsizing, re-organization, or lack of work, you should qualify for unemployment benefits. If you are denied benefits, you should appeal and speak to a lawyer to determine your next steps.
Generally, if you are terminated for “misconduct” you are not eligible to receive unemployment. The employer has the burden to prove misconduct. Some examples of misconduct are reporting to work under the influence or use of alcohol or illegal drugs while at work, physical violence in the workplace, theft in connect with the employment, falsifying any documents relating to the employment, refusal to perform reasonably assigned work tasks or failure to adequately perform employment duties as evidence by no fewer than three written reprimands. Whether or not an employee’s conduct, which lead to the terminated, was truly “misconduct” as denied by law is hot topic of litigation.
When you file for unemployment benefits you will be asked to complete a questionnaire indicating the reason you are no longer working, pay rate, etc. The employer will also be asked to complete a questionnaire. An adjudicator will look at those and determine whether someone is eligible for unemployment benefits. That decision can be appealed, the deadline to appeal will be on the decision.
If there is an appeal, you will have a hearing before an Appeals Referee. This is known as the evidentiary stage of the case. Prior to your hearing date, you will have the opportunity to submit any evidence that you wish to introduce and rely on at your hearing. You must send a copy to the opposing party prior to the hearing date. At the hearing, the Appeals Referee will asked both parties a series of questions to determine who as the burden of proof and whether they have met that burden. You can have witnesses available to testify on your behalf. A few days later, you will receive a decision in the mail.
The party that looses can appeal to the Board of Review. At this stage, no additional evidence can be submitted or introduced. The Board of Review will review the record and determine whether the Appeals Referee erred in their findings of fact or conclusions of law. Sometimes, the Board of Review will remand the case for a new hearing if they have insufficient information to rule.
The final level of appeal is a Petition for Judicial Review. This involves petitioning a superior court judge to review the decision made by the Board of Review. Once the petition is filed, arguments will be made to the judge in court prior to a ruling.
Regardless of what stage you are in, our attorneys are here to give advice and help you through the process. Give us a call today for a risk-free consultation.