Can You Collect Unemployment for Involuntary Separation From Employment?

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An involuntary separation from your job means that you’re suddenly unemployed and it’s not your choice. Unemployed workers can often collect benefits from your state, but only if you’re unemployed through no fault of your own. If your employer initiated the separation due to your behavior or actions and can prove it, your claim is disqualified.

Involuntary Separation

While an employer/employee relationship can generally end for any reason at all, an involuntary separation implies that the employee did not initiate it. Instead, a firing, layoff or termination is done at the request of the employer. Involuntary separations only qualify for unemployment benefits if you were not at fault for your separation.

At Fault

In terms of unemployment benefits, at fault refers to a job separation in which you contributed to the reason for the separation. Layoffs usually indicate that the reason for the separation is a business decision rather than a problem with your work. On the other hand, if your employer fires you, it’s indicated that your behavior or actions led your employer to let you go. Layoffs qualify for benefits but firings usually don’t.

Proving It

State unemployment laws vary, but your state generally places the burden of proving an involuntary separation doesn’t qualify for unemployment benefits on the employer. Each former employee that collects unemployment increases the payroll tax rate that an employer has to pay into the state unemployment insurance trust fund. So, your former employer has reason to dispute your unemployment claim.

Types of Documentation

Your former employer will have to show documentation to the state to prove you don’t qualify for benefits. He’ll may show your employment record, which will include any disciplinary measures. Often, these writeups or memos have your signature on them to acknowledge that you were disciplined for problems. He also might show notarized witness statements from your co-workers or direct supervisor. If there’s photographic or video evidence, such as in the case of terminations for theft or vandalism, he can use that against you during the proceedings, too.

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