The Missouri Division of Employment Security is responsible for administering the state’s unemployment benefits. Once an unemployed worker files a claim, it contacts each claimant’s former employer in writing with a notice of filing for unemployment benefits to substantiate the reason for unemployment. The unemployment office in Missouri will not pay benefits during a one-week waiting period while processing applications. Within 18-22 days of submitting an application, the office contacts the applicant with its decision.
Missouri limits unemployment benefits to unemployed workers who are not working through no fault of their own. The state also provides unemployment benefits to partially employed workers whose hours were reduced involuntarily. To qualify for unemployment benefits as a terminated employee, you must be able to prove that your employer terminated you illegally. If the state approves your claim, you will receive weekly benefits for up to 26 weeks, and you may qualify for additional federal benefits if you are still not working after exhausting your state benefits. You will be required to submit a weekly certification that you are looking for a job and able to work.
Missouri is an employment-at-will state, and employers may terminate their employees without providing a reason for termination. However, the employment-at-will doctrine does not allow your employer to terminate you illegally for discriminatory reasons or in retaliation for exercising your legal rights. Your employer cannot terminate you for filing a wage complaint, filing a complaint based on discriminatory conduct or for exercising any other of your legally protected rights. If your employer terminated you because of your age, race, national origin, religion, gender or disability, then you will qualify for unemployment benefits, but you may be required to prove your employer terminated you for those reasons.
If your termination was for an isolated instance of misconduct, then that typically does not qualify as termination based on fault. However, if your employer terminated you for repeated instances of misconduct, then your termination was your fault, and the state may deny your unemployment claim. Your employer has an opportunity to object to your application for benefits or approval of benefits. To object to an initial appeal, your employer must appeal your initial application within the time limits provided by the Missouri Division of Employment Security. To object to an approval of benefits, your employer must submit a written appeal within 30 days from the determination letter.
Your employer can protest your application for benefits by supplying a valid legal defense. Missouri law requires that you accept reduced hours if offered. Your employer may also submit proof of misconduct related to your work or for violating company policies. The state can reduce your benefits if your employer offered a vacation payout, pension, holiday pay or pay under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Your employer may attach personnel files, copies of disciplinary warnings, copies of its personnel rules and your job performance history.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.