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Your former boss may fight your benefits claim

If it happens to you, don't get discouraged.

By Karen Datko Oct 12, 2009 12:14AM

Adding insult to injury, employers are opposing unemployment benefits claims in record numbers, The Washington Post reports.

Imagine being among the multitudes getting pink slips, applying for benefits that will help you keep your home -- and then getting notice that your former company contends you're not entitled because you were let go for misconduct or that you quit. Protests are being filed by former employers in more than a quarter of all new benefits claims, the Post says.

It's challenging enough to qualify for unemployment benefits. Many people, particularly those who worked part-time jobs, don't. (But please do check. You can do this easily over the phone or online.)

Let's say you meet the qualifications. Apply right away. The state will determine your eligibility. If you lost your job to downsizing, you're golden. Also, incompetence is generally not considered misconduct. You're also entitled if you quit for good cause.

Stay positive. Even if your former employer protests, The Post says employer challenges are successful only about a third of the time.

"Just because your employer cites some rule violation as the reason for your termination does not necessarily mean that you were fired for ‘cause' or misconduct, and that you won't be entitled to unemployment compensation," says Workplace Fairness. Remember, the rules vary from state to state.

You may have thought it's unlikely that an employer would protest because the benefits are paid by the state. However, states tax employers to cover the cost. When a state's fund is depleted, the Post story says, it may raise the tax to build it back up. Employers' rates are also based on how much their former workers collected.

What can you do if your employer challenges your application?

  • Be prepared and document, document, document. Your employer is keeping a written record of your performance. Be ready to produce your version.
  • Make sure you make your case to the appropriate state officials in the manner required by state law.
  • If your application is turned down, you can appeal. If you haven't consulted a lawyer by now, this may be a good time to do so.
  • Workplace Fairness also says, "If you plan to appeal the denial of benefits, you must continue to file requests or applications for benefits and meet all of the other requirements for obtaining benefits."
Published Feb. 13, 2009


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