Losing a job can be a stressful time. In addition to mentally and emotionally processing what has just occurred, you need to make practical decisions regarding how you will pay bills until you secure a new job. Unemployment benefits are designed to tide you over when you’ve lost a job through no fault of your own. You can take a few steps to strengthen your case if your former employer contests your benefits.
File in a Timely Manner
File for unemployment benefits as soon as you know that you’re out of a job. You can file for unemployment benefits in person or online through your state’s unemployment office. If your application for unemployment benefits is rejected, you must normally file an appeal within 30 days.
Right to Benefits
Employers must claim that one of the following situations occurred for you to be denied benefits: You were fired for misconduct, quit without good cause, turned down a suitable job that was offered during your period of unemployment, are participating in a strike or work stoppage, are receiving social security or severance pay, workers’ compensation payments or a private pension. You may also be denied if you have made false claims in an effort to secure unemployment. If none of these cases are true, you have a right to unemployment benefits.
If your former employer claims that you were fired due to misconduct, he must prove the charge in a hearing with an arbitrator. The employer will need to show that you deliberately violated rules or showed such a disregard for your duties that he was forced to let you go. Ask former workers to support your assertion that you performed your job professionally by testifying on your behalf at an unemployment hearing. Provide past job evaluations, positive notes from your employer, or any other evidence that your work was satisfactory.
Employer Claims You Quit
If you quit your job, the reason must be due to just cause. To prove this, you can provide evidence such as witnesses who will testify that they heard the employer fire you or witnessed you being mistreated on the job. You can offer statements from your doctor reporting that your health was adversely affected by the job or evidence that your job was unsafe for you to perform.
Seek Professional Help
You are entitled to defend yourself in an unemployment hearing, but take the opportunity to find out how much you'd have to pay to have an attorney represent you. A lawyer familiar with unemployment law can help you navigate any road blocks your former employer is likely to throw your way.