Collecting unemployment benefits is intended to be a simple process that can be navigated by the recently unemployed without assistance. Most states have online access to apply for benefits, file weekly claims while looking for work, and the like. The process is supposed to be easy to negotiate without legal assistance. Sometimes it is—but not always.
Each state runs its own unemployment program, but all of them do so under federal guidelines. The states set their standards for eligibility, how much you can receive in benefits and how long you can receive benefits, but all states operate under two basic federal mandates:
- If you lost your job through no fault of your own, you are eligible for benefits, and
- You must meet your state’s requirements for receiving unemployment benefits, such as time on the job and earnings amounts.
Even if you quit, you still might be eligible for benefits if you did so because of “good cause,” such as hazardous working conditions or illegal pay practices. In cases such as those, however, you bear the burden of proving that your former employer was violating safety or labor regulations.
Why Should I Consider Using a Lawyer for my Unemployment Benefits Claim?
There are two immutable facts of unemployment claims: Claims are sometimes denied, requiring you to appeal, and claims are granted and your former employer can appeal. In either scenario, you are fairly likely to find yourself arguing against your former employer’s attorney at the appeal hearing.
Here is how the process works. You lose your job, through no fault of your own, and file for benefits. Your former employer is notified of your claim and is allowed to dispute the claim. An administrator at the state unemployment agency reviews your claim and either grants or denies benefits. The two most common reasons for denial of benefits are:
- The employer claims the employee was guilty of misconduct that justified the firing, or
- The employee left the job voluntarily without good cause.
Once a decision has been made, you will receive a notice letting you know whether your claim has been allowed or rejected. If you are initially denied benefits, you have a right to appeal. The deadline to appeal is often, depending upon the state, fairly short and very specific. If your claim is granted, your former employer has a right to appeal, also subject to the same usually short and always specific appeals deadline. If you or your former employer appeal the unemployment agency’s decision to grant or deny benefits, an appeal hearing will determine whether you are eligible for benefits.
Even if your application for benefits is initially denied, or appealed by your former employer, you should continue to file weekly claims for benefits. Otherwise, you lose the right to claim benefits for those weeks.
The issues at an appeals hearing can be complicated, even though the process is intended to be simple enough for you to deal with even without an attorney’s assistance. The fact is, your former employer has many reasons upon which it can base its appeal (or to fight against your appeal). First, the former employer may have many plausible reasons to believe that you are not entitled to benefits. On top of that, their unemployment taxes will rise if you receive benefits.
And you can rest assured that it will not be a low-level employee from the human resources department representing your former employer. You will be facing the company’s labor law attorney. This might be your first battle over unemployment benefits. It won’t be the first for the employer’s attorney. You will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses to support your case. So will your former employer. As a result, you should be sure to retain an attorney to protect your legal right to benefits.
If You Are Being Denied Unemployment Benefits, Contact the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp Today
If you have lost your job through no fault of your own in the St. Louis and St. Charles areas and are having difficulty collecting unemployment benefits, you should contact the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp. You can call (636) 947-3600 or contact us online.