About Me (aka Chris-Unemployment-Tips.com)

Hi, my name is Chris (the one who found motivation in questions to be answered about collecting unemployment from the perspective of and for one unemployed person at a time.

Unemployment Tips is here because I was laid off from my job in 2006. And as it happened I was lucky that my job had been as an unemployment hearing coordinator, meaning I worked for a few of those unemployment claim management companies that fight benefits .. and often enough, no matter the actual cause of separation, to the point of being obnoxious on behalf of other employers in this country.

At the time I learned I would be laid off, I was on an approved FMLA leave ..

I can't say I felt like it was a bad thing either, but then my personal feelings about what I sometimes had to ignore to do my job were the tactics I could see coming.

I realized during the first phone call from my employer to notify me of being laid off, I was also being set up for a potential protest to me being allowed to collect benefits.

For a long time, well before my job was eliminated, I had an opinion about why so many didn't collect.  And that pervasive lack of information that could actually help employees understand how unemployment insurance beneftis really worked to fight more effectively .. if they even chose to fight for benefits with an appeal is still the norm for how many states approach allowing benefits to claimants ignorant of how UI law actually can be made to work .. if you know more.

Although my plans to work again did not initially include writing about collecting unemployment benefits, becoming self employed doing something without benefit of haviing an at-will employer  was what I wanted for myself.

But I saw that path as being a very steep and new learning curve.

Clearly, I was unemployed and although able to wrestle my way to collecting, I decided what better time to use what I did know  about and practice how to build a website.

Fate .. prompted by my former employer following tried and true strategic tactics to deny benefits and subsequently one related to refusing suitable work prompted me to go back to work for them as a temp hearing coordinator, minus the benefits of course.

Today, it's seems that everything it took for this website to come together came at a time in history when we were at the front door of a huge, unprecedented mega recession .. when I was thoroughly fed up with watching myself act as if i was just a victim of my circumstances.

As my unemployment story explains it was 2009, when I was finally forced to quit my job as a temporary hearing coordinator.

But, after my former employer appealed because I was allowed benefits and subsequently lost both the first appeal hearing and had their appeal to the unemployment board of review dismissed, I found myself not willing to continue being able and available to work, or the real bummer,  only continue the search for another job as an at will employee to stay compliant with claiming weekly benefits.

So, I did what any reasonable person in my situation would do.  

I voluntarily stopped collecting unemployment benefits and began offering professional unemployment services on a website I'd built by answering free questions while I'd also been working at a job, sometimes upwards of seventy hours a week .. helping employers prep for unemployment appeals.

When you can see how the unemployment laws can be made to work for one side of the argument, you can also see when that argument is contingent on the other side not knowing what to do .. 

The irony about at-will employment, is it can be as difficult to get a bad employer (often just another employee called boss) to see it is their leadership style that is as misguided and  possibly socially irresponsible .. as any other bad employee they may fire for cause, or force to quit without good cause.

But what about all those employee who've been lost in the middle of an unfamilar process with a winnable case for benefits who just needed some eye opening guidance to see the full picture .. of how unemployment works?

Just One Unemployment Story At a Time

Let's start with mine.  

I hope it will be an example of what some of you can do to use unemployment insurance benefits effectively and properly to one's own advantage .. before you become unemployed.

My personal experience as a prepared unemployed was in great part, thanks to my job, which was eliminated by my employer in 2006 while I was on an approved FMLA leave. 

But it was the typical unemployment response tactics that led me to solidify an idea for unemployment tips for claimants .. even if that was the last thing on my mind for entering into a self-employed business.

All I had to do was think back to the hundreds of appeals I handled where the unemployed person was denied benefits for voluntarily quitting their job by failing to return from an approved leave of absence .. and I had the documentation to prove it.

Being a long-term (thirty-eight years) employee of some company, or another, I had never had a problem with always doing a job well and to the best of my ability.  But in 2006, I was admittedly gathering a bit of cynicism about at-will employment and let's face it, some years under my belt when I ended up laid up on my couch recovering from a surgery subject to an approved and protected family medical leave .. thanks to the FMLA.

During the course of a very short phone call, the direction my life would change.

My husband and I were headed down the home stretch (twelve more years) to retirement age.

My attitude about that job though had already began calling my personal choices contrary to my own personal values, sharply into question

At the end of the call from the branch manager, I could see the unemployment freight train headed my way.

After I said, "Hello" I heard the well-framed lead in (for soothing affect) that informed me my job was over.

Since I was an appeal coordinator for a UI cost control company, I simply wasn't shocked, as I knew a reduction in force often occurs after one company acquires another.  In fact, I can see why it's simply smart business to cull and reduce the numbers of redundant employees.

But, without skipping a beat when I heard the branch manager say ... 

"You know, we have open positions to fill in other departments and I think you would be a good fit for a couple to apply for when you're released to work .. the first thing I did after the phone call was drag out my FMLA leave papers.

There is was .. the rub in the return to work date.

Of course I did apply for the jobs when finally released by my doctor, but I also knew it would be up to me to guard my unemployment benefits from a potential  "informational only letter" .. saying I refused.  If you don't know .. and informational letter can at times be the same as clicking the "report unemployment fraud  button/link on a state agency website.

Warning! Warning! Warning! Employer just signaled the same tactical plan that's works on many of you you denied for a voluntary quit by failing to return from an approved leave of absence.  

Of course suitable work  wasn't yet an issue of denial yet, but it became my issue when they offered me my old job back .. but just temporarily through a staffing agency.

But hey, I already told you what I did for a living .. right?  

I knew that at this point, regardless of how I felt about losing my job, it could never be to early to get down to the nitty gritty of preparing to be able to prove to the unemployment department I wasn't at fault, no matter what issue the employer decided to fight my benefits on.

One word to the wise. Document.  Let's say it three times for added emphasis.

I coordinated thousands of unemployment appeal hearings for employers from late in 2006 through much of 2009.

My job duties remained the same for the most part, assessing validity of employer appeals, locating and prepping direct witnesses to attend the hearing, filling out a document file missing relevant documentation to a discharge, or glowing resignation letters to prove a voluntary quit was without good cause .. when I knew someone had been fired in LIEU of discharge (which should always be adjudicated as a discharge by the UI dept.)

Then I would wrap everything up in a tidy bundle and send it to the independent non-attorney hearing rep, (or unemployment attorney when required by state rule)  I'd already had lined up to handle the hearing and manage, direct, any direct witnesses appearing for the employer (company).

Suffice it to say in my own case .. before I was laid off, I was able to get the "incorrect" RTW date I uncovered on my FMLA paperwork corrected by documenting everything in emails.  

I applied as instructed for the jobs and was about to go back to work in of all things .. the tax department when a hiring freeze prevented my re-employment.

Yet, because I had wisely documented clearly when communicating with the employer (yes, even verbal conversations) I had proof to rebut their accusation I had refused suitable work.

But, as it turned out, the employer was finally able to maneuver themselves away from more of my benefits being charged to them.  

I remained "temporary" not really their employee, but being an employee of a temp staffing agency on assignment to my old employer for nearly three more years ..

Then, in 2009, I could see myself being a temp employee for the rest of my days .. when the employers .. both of them, gave me some good cause to quit I could work with.


Maybe now the snotty temp agency owner who gloated when she told me I was now a "do not use" because I quit my long term assignment, why it's beneficial to focus a your testimony at a hearing on how UI law should work when you have proof of what you're testifying to as fact!

In case I left you with any doubt .. I have strong feelings about at least one, temp agency that I know is still a big at-will employer in this country.  

How I Continue to Survive Not Being an Employee

Unemployment Services for Claimant and Employees


Do You Have Ideas About Employment in the U.S.?

Depending on what you currently think about being an employee, it's the attitude we bring with us to do any sort of work that should matter most to us as individuals.

And that's something I may give me even more to talk about .. than just collecting unemployment benefits when we lose an at-will job through no fault of our own.

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