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Questions about Unemployment Benefits Laws

Unemployment benefits may be claimed by a person who has lost his or her job through no fault of his or her own, or has quit his or her job citing a “good cause” for doing so.

Here are some unemployment benefits questions with answers provided by legal experts.

What should one do when he is unemployed but receives an “overpayment notice” but there are no funds to repay?

In such a case, it would be best retain a local attorney to draft a reply stating good reasons for difficulties in repaying. Also, a repayment plan should be crafted, which may make the authorities considerate and extend the deadline for repayment.

How may an unemployment benefits claimant who is falsely accused by an employer respond to the Department of Labor?

The claimant should hire an attorney who will be able to help in court ordering any witnesses and the employment file. A defamation lawsuit against the employer should also be considered.

In California, can “gross misconduct” lead to denying an employee unemployment benefits? What constitutes gross misconduct?

There is no set definition for "gross misconduct". In California gross misconduct generally means a willful act that either caused or could have caused the employer to suffer significant injury or harm. Examples of gross misconduct might be getting intoxicated at work, selling drugs at the workplace, stealing employer property or money, assaulting a co-worker or accidentally causing a building to burn down.

The EDD Unemployment Review Board would be the ones to determine whether the employee is guilty of gross misconduct. In California, an employee can be denied unemployment benefits only on the grounds of gross misconduct.

In Texas, can a teacher collect unemployment benefits if non-renewed?

A teacher may file for unemployment if the district chooses to not renew her contract. However, the district may deny the unemployment claim, in which case the teacher can file an appeal.

How long is an unemployment claim valid for? What happens if an employee gets a job within this period?

Assuming the employee meets all the other eligibility criteria, an unemployment claim is valid for one year, out of which an employee will be able to collect unemployment for 39 weeks. But if an employee gets a job during this period and loses it within a year of filing a claim, he can still get paid for the balance of the weeks he remained unemployed. However, it must be noted a fresh 39 weeks will not be granted for every job the employee takes/loses within the year of the first claim. Also, it is mandatory to declare any income gained from a job undertaken within this period as an independent contractor.

Following a misinterpretation of information provided by an employer in Iowa to the Appeals Board, the employee is denied unemployment benefits. What should the employee then do?

Once the first appeal hearing is conducted by the Appeals Board, a second appeal is generally decided on the basis of whether the first hearing officer correctly ruled on the record of evidence produced at the hearing. No new evidence is generally allowed except in extraordinary circumstances, where it could not have been discovered despite reasonable diligence prior to the first hearing.

The employee would need to explain to the Appeals Board the first hearings officer misinterpreted the events in the record, and the events had nothing to do with the termination event itself. The employee would show how the relevant evidence in time, place, and occurrence does not show there was any misconduct leading to termination. With this, it may be possible that the Appeals Board would rule in favor of the employee. It is also advisable for the employee to request a copy of the recording or transcript of the appeals hearing.

Can an person collecting unemployment benefits turn down an offer of a temporary job? Can he still apply for an extension after the completion of the term of the temporary job?

No job offer can be turned down by a person collecting unemployment benefits, whatever the type or term of job. Moreover, once the job offer is refused, the extension will not be allowed. If the employee takes up the temporary job, he may be able to submit a new application (not an extension) to collect unemployment benefits once the term of the job ends.

Can a person convicted of a felony apply for unemployment benefits?

Any person, provided he or she qualifies, can apply for and receive unemployment benefits even if he or she has been convicted of a felony in the past.

Can one receive severance pay and also claim unemployment benefits at the same time?

If the employer is paying the severance pay as though the employee were still working and at the regular pay date intervals, it would be considered “severance pay in lieu of wages”. As a result, unemployment benefits would not begin till after one week of the severance pay ending.

Going through a period of unemployment, especially for no fault of the employee, can be stressful in more ways than one. People in such a situation may also be unsure as to how to claim unemployment benefits, which is where the knowledge of a legal expert can be helpful.
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