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Can my Employer Keep Me from Collecting Unemployment?


If you are laid off from a job and your previous earnings qualified you for unemployment benefits, most of the time it's simply a matter of filing a few forms and showing proof of your identity before you begin receiving unemployment benefits to help tide you over until you find another job. But what happens if your employer challenges your unemployment claim?

What it Means

When your unemployment claim is denied, it means that your employer has challenged your claim on the basis that your discharge was merit-based and not due to financial circumstances. Either party is allowed to appeal this decision, so some employers may challenge a claim just so their unemployment insurance doesn't go up. Unemployment insurance, like car insurance, gets more expensive every time you use it.

What You Can Do

If your claim has been denied, you can appeal the decision. You must file an appeal within 8 days within the mailing date of the decision. The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. If your case is reviewed, you'll be notified of a time and date for a hearing. This is your chance to tell your side of the story, so be prepared. Gather any evidence you have that helps prove that you were laid off and not fired, such as local news stories about a layoff at your company, letters of recommendation or praise, letters showing a merit raise or evidence of earned bonuses. You can even bring witnesses if you have someone who can testify for you. Any witnesses you bring should have firsthand knowledge of the events in question. They can't merely be supporters.

You can also have legal representation at your hearing if you so choose. If you choose to hire an attorney, contact them as soon as possible after you are notified of your hearing.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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