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Don't Be Denied Unemployment

As layoffs mount, more employers are protesting unemployment claims filed by ex-employees, according to The Washington Post. That's because employers typically fund the state's unemployment pool and each company's rate is determined by its history.

After their unemployment benefits are denied, some workers are surprised to learn they weren't really "laid off ." Instead they were reported as terminated for cause, like tardiness or poor performance. While workers have a chance to protest a denied claim, the process takes time and effort.

If the worse happens to you, make sure you're prepared to validate your claim for unemployment benefits.

Keep performance records: Maintain a duplicate file at home, because if you are laid off and escorted from the building, you may not be able to go through your desk to retrieve your personal files. Keep a copy of your performance reviews and any letters or e-mails of commendation you receive. If you receive a warning, and correct your behavior, ask your boss for written proof of your improvement. If you only receive verbal confirmation, document when the conversation occurred and keep the note in your folder. Also, consider sending an e-mail to your boss confirming the conversation, which puts the onus back on him to respond, if he disagrees with your assertion.

Ask why: If you are let go, ask for the official reason. The person letting you go may call it a layoff and put a different termination reason in your file, which might impact your ability to collect unemployment.

Severance language: If you're given a package and asked to sign an agreement, look carefully at the language to see if it might prohibit you from collecting unemployment. If necessary, insert a phrase stating the company will not protest your unemployment claim and make sure it is initialed by a company representative, then keep a copy. When in doubt, ask a lawyer to review the document.

Take notes: Some situations are sticky, like when you're being pressured to resign, or when working conditions are poor or your pay has been cut while workloads increase. You have the best chance of collecting if you can prove your assertion. Be sure and document the chain of events, noting each date, time and who was involved, in case you need the information in order to collect.

AUTHORLeslie Stevens-Huffman Insider Comment
  • El
    8 March 2010

    I live in state of California..I worked for a company non-profit for 2 weeks, I was let go because they said they felt I was not learning the job quick enough and possibbly the way I was being trained didn't work for me..they also even said I could use them as a reference because it was nothing personal..I was denied unemployment benefits because they said I was late without permission and I was warned which is not true, I told unemployment I thought the first day I was going to be late cause my car got stolen that day and I called to let them know and left a message, and I walked in the company maybe 3-4 mins after I was to satart that was it. I'm going to appeal but how can they just say this without any proof I didn't sign anything..any advise please let me know.

  • Wa
    Wallace Cambra,
    2 September 2009

    Apparently, I was denied unemployement due to job speration, because I had a moving violation. I have worked for them more than 15years. It has past the 30 day window for a fair hearing. What can I do to retro my back unempolyemt that is due to me?

  • Jo
    Jon Jacobs
    13 April 2009

    Sheila, we don't give legal advice and I for one don't think you're very likely to get good legal advice for free from some anonymous anybody (or some anonymous nobody) who might post here in response to your question.

    For one thing, you'll know immediately that anyone who does respond here with anything definitive is either making fun of you or is an idiot - because you didn't say what state you're how could anyone possibly give an answer with any chance of being correct???

    If you want advice that might be relevant to your problem, rather than just sympathy, you must consult either:
    1) A private employment attorney;
    2) An advocate for unemployment benefits in your state (perhaps your state labor department itself has a sub-agency that counsels or advocates for people seeking benefits);
    3) Legal Aid, if you qualify;
    4) A labor union that represents temp workers - the SEIU or some other union.
    --Jon Jacobs, eFinancialCareers News staff

  • Sh
    Sheila Meadows
    13 April 2009

    I worked for a temp agency and the firm i was working for as a temp decided to hire me. That did not work out and I applied for unemployment and was denied because the agency said i had quit.Do I have any recourse stating I went to the firm I was with as a temp and file an appeal against the temp agency?

  • An
    Anna Smith
    19 March 2009

    Nancy, I am also in sort of a similar situation with a large investment firm. I love the statement "The managers and Human Resourse just ignored the rebuttal" - I would urge you to fight your case as there are several firms who engage in such activities (ie: office politics) and get away with it. I used to believe you can always trust HR but after a 5hr conversation (that was not recorded) - I lost my job. It is the victims like us that suffer because they know that it you were to fight back it would require alot of guts and finances. There are lawyers or fims out there that can help. Once you start to legally fight back it makes you wonders how many other cases are out there. Just remember it is a stressful & emotional situation to fight so be strong and prepared to have your life open !!

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