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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38802
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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An employee quit and filed an unemployment claim, stating that

Customer Question

An employee quit and filed an unemployment claim, stating that the environment was hostile and that she was repeatedly referred to as dumb.

I do not think the environment was hostile at all, and even took the staff to a nice/expensive lunch for her birthday.

I am concerned that this unemployment claim will eventually turn into a lawsuit. I have fired several people and one person quit while in a disciplinary conference with me, and I am concerned that these individuals will come together and create false evidence backing each other up.

1. Is it better to just let this unemployment claim go and hope she is satisfied with money she doesn't deserve, or should I fight the claim and ask for proof? Again, I am concerned she or someone else can concoct some evidence; also, if she gets the unemployment benefits she may encourage other employees/ex-employees to file similar claims.
2. The company has already planned to close, though that has not been made public yet. If the company closes before any lawsuit is filed, will I or the company owner have any personal liability for anything related to this issue?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
1. Is it better to just let this unemployment claim go and hope she is satisfied with money she doesn't deserve, or should I fight the claim and ask for proof? Again, I am concerned she or someone else can concoct some evidence; also, if she gets the unemployment benefits she may encourage other employees/ex-employees to file similar claims.

A: Even if you were actually proved to have called the employee, "dumb," this doesn't mean that you have violated any law or created a hostile employment environment (unless the employee has som mental disability, such as "Down's Syndrome," which affects the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job. The issue for the unemployment department is whether or not the employee quit for a reason where no reasonable person would have remained employed. If yes, then the employee receives the benefits -- otherwise not.

So, if you believe that other former employees may gang up on you at the hearing, and you cannot show documentation to prove that these employees were all warned about their violating employer reasonable rules/policies (e.g., written acknowledgment of a warning about bad conduct in the workplace), then you may be wasting your time challenging their rights to unemployment.

I don't personally think that the claimant will be more or less likely to sue on some other claim, based upon the outcome of the unemployment insurance benefits hearing. I can see an argument on both sides of this question.

2. The company has already planned to close, though that has not been made public yet. If the company closes before any lawsuit is filed, will I or the company owner have any personal liability for anything related to this issue?

A: No personal liability attaches to an officer or manager of a company/LLC or corporation, except where there is a failure to remit payroll taxes, unemployment insurance contributions or workers compensation insurance payments.

Note: Given that the employer is "going out of business," I don't see any benefit to challenging the claimaint's unemployment claim. It's just a waste of time, because there's no future benefit to the employer in fighting about the issue. The costs of the current claim has already been paid from previous payroll remittances.

Please let me know if my answer is helpful or if you need further clarification or assistance.

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