What to Do When an Employer Contests Unemployment Benefits

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What happens when you file for unemployment and your employer contests your claim? In most cases, a company appeals your unemployment claim when they don’t consider you eligible to receive unemployment benefits. This could be for one of several reasons related to your termination of employment.

How Unemployment Works

Unemployment is a state and federal support system for employees who are temporarily out of work. The system pays benefits from funds collected in taxes on the employer.

Each state sets a requirement for the time a job must be held and the total of wages the employee had to earn. States also set the no-fault conditions that qualify for you losing a job and will allow you to be eligible to receive benefits.

In most cases, the employee does not pay into the system. The amount of unemployment tax an employer pays is based on the number of unemployment claims in the employer’s account. If the employer believes that an employee is not eligible for unemployment benefits, an employer may contest or challenge an employee's claim for benefits.

Why Your Claim May be Contested

Each state sets a requirement for the time a job must be held and the total of wages the employee had to earn. States also set the no-fault conditions that qualify for you losing a job and will allow you to be eligible to receive benefits.

Employers will receive notification of a claim filed against them. They will be able to review the information presented by the ex-worker and disagree with any items listed.

Some typical reasons for unemployment disqualification include when an employee is fired for cause or misconduct, when the employee quits, when the person didn’t have enough hours or weeks of employment to qualify, or when they were considered a contractor rather than an employee.

What Happens When Your Unemployment Claim is Contested

If your employer contests your claim for unemployment, your case will be reviewed by an investigator from your state department of labor. The investigator will analyze the information provided by the employer and may interview the employer to gather additional insights.

You may be contacted to answer some questions about the circumstances surrounding your separation from the job. Make sure that you respond quickly, thoroughly, and honestly to any requests for information. The staff from the unemployment office will then make a determination on whether or not you are eligible for benefits.

If you are accepted for benefits, the employer can still request a hearing to appeal the decision. If you are denied benefits, you will receive written notification of that decision, which will include information regarding the appeals process and the deadline for filing an appeal.

The Unemployment Appeals Process

The appeals process will vary by state. Contact your state unemployment office for a determination on your specific circumstances and how appeals are handled in your state. The information can usually be found on the state unemployment website, but don’t hesitate to contact the office with any questions or if you need clarification.

In general, here's how it works:

  • Your legal representative can participate in the hearing and provide advice, but you will be required to present your case.
  • You can use witnesses who might counter any claims that the employer may be making as grounds for denying benefits. Your employer can also have witnesses to support its position.
  • Be sure to have copies of any documentation that might be used to negate claims by your employer of misconduct.
  • You must continue to file weekly unemployment claims throughout the appeals process if you wish to receive benefits for those weeks.

How to Protect Your Claim

The more documentation you can provide to support your claim for unemployment benefits, the more likely you will be to prove your eligibility successfully. You should assemble any doctor’s notes, emails, HR files, letters from supervisors and colleagues, and any other supporting evidence of the legitimacy of your claim.

Your employer will be required to do the same, and the appeals board will make a determination of whose claim will prevail.

Be sure to file your appeal before the deadline, and continue to file for benefits while the appeals process plays out, or you will not receive benefits during that time.

Both parties are allowed to appeal the decision, and the appeals board will determine the outcome during a hearing. You will need to attend every meeting, or have a written legitimate excuse, or you risk losing your case.

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "State Unemployment Insurance Benefits." Accessed April 30, 2020.

  2. SHRM. "How to Determine if You Should Contest an Unemployment Claim." Accessed April 30, 2020.

  3. New York State Department of Labor. "The Hearing Process: Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed April 30, 2020.