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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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What are my unemployment rights? Can I get paid severance?

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What are my unemployment rights? Can I get paid severance?
Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.

It depends on the nature of the severance.

For instance, if you gave notice and the employer stated that they wanted you to leave but that they would pay you through the notice period, that is not severance. It's pay in lieu of notice and you wouldn't be entitled to unemployment during that time.

Additionally, continuation pay at the end of employment, with full benefits, that was part of a guaranteed plan (usually seen in collective bargaining agreements, where certain classes of employees would be guaranteed continuation pay that the end of their employment) would disqualify someone from unemployment.

However, individually negotiated severance does not disqualify one for unemployment benefits. It should be reported at first, with unemployment, when filing and once it is determined that it is regular severance, there would not need to be further reporting of the income from the severance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Basically, what happened is my boss told me it was a "layoff." He then changed his mind and asked me to sign a resignation letter. I worked at the company for 6 weeks and 40 hours a week. I just need some advice on what to do. He said that if i sign the resignation letter, I would get paid "2 weeks severance."

Ok. Do not sign that letter.

There is a difference between a company offering severance and a company trying to get you to sign a resignation letter so that they can avoid paying the unemployment that you'd get if they terminate your employment.

Your unemployment benefits could be worth much more than 2 weeks of severance.

Now, if you haven't been employed for a long time and this is the first job you've had in a while, such that you haven't built up any unemployment over the last 5 quarters (the last 15 months), then that 2 weeks could be worth it, but you'll have to make that determination for yourself. If you've worked at all over the last year, your unemployment benefit is going to be worth more than 2 weeks of severance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I was employed for 9 months at another position before I quit that job for this one.

Then you're fine. That other income would count towards your full "base period" for unemployment. Then all the matters is how you leave your most recent job.

Signing a resignation letter would result in your being disqualified for unemployment. Do not sign the resignation letter, tell them you won't, and then file for unemployment.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The last job I had was part-time. Do I still qualify.

Yes, a part time job is still income.

The amount of money you'd be eligible for will be lower because your income was lower, but you are still eligible.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How do I file for unemployment in the state of Washington?

Call their claims office.

Be prepared to answer the questions that they ask, which you can find at this website (along with their phone number).
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I read through the list. Are they going to ask me why I was fired? What if I don't know?

Then say that you don't know. They are just looking for a situation where you know why you were fired.

For instance, if you were terminated for stealing from the company, they'd want to know that so that they can confirm it and deny your unemployment.

You were told that you were being laid off. If that's all you were told, that's all you can say. They just want to know things from your perspective. Unemployment will also be contacting the employer to get their side of the situation.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is there anything he can say that will make me ineligible for unemployment?

Anything that he would say would have to be backed by evidence and then you would be able to refute anything that he would say.

It's actually very difficult to block someone's unemployment rights. The employer understands that, which is why he is trying to get you to sign the resignation letter. That would make it very easy.
Allen M., Esq. and 7 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thank you SO much for your advice/aid. It really means the world to me.

No problem. Take care and good luck going forward.

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