About Me .. and Working At-Will

My name is Chris and  Unemployment-Tips.com is intentionally for those who work at-will and become unemployed through no fault of their own, but for some reason, have trouble collecting unemployment benefits.

The website was built on years of work experience coordinating unemployment appeal hearings for employers.  Of course that job experience was solely worked from the perspective  of keeping an employee from collecting, or at least knowing what can be sufficient to stop the receipt of benefits .. after the first hearing.

Many employees could tell you that stopping benefits at an appeal hearing usually results in having to repay benefits .. while you're still unemployed, but some reason talking about how unemployment insurance benefits work out .. is something of a taboo .. whether you're an employee .. or the employer.

I for one, don't have a problem with broaching a taboo subject, but I may have one with impulsively jumping on a soapbox to discuss how a taboo can be at fault for perpetuating the ignorance that tends to work against unemployed people .. at least in this particular arena of administrative law.

When Fighting Unemployment Benefits Stopped Being My Job .. Temporarily

In 2006 at the age of fifty-one, I myself was put in the position of needing to collect unemployment .. in lieu of going to work every day.

But knowing what I did, about how my employer operated, I was on high alert for trouble.

My job as  hearing coordinator was eliminated after all, while I was on an FMLA leave, and not being one to ignore what can be done to handle matters of FMLA,  definitely made me cautious to look out for employer strategy and tactics to deal with unemployment benefits.

So, I was prepared for potential booby traps, therefore, prepared with proof of mine and my employer's actions, should circumstances arise requiring me to be ready to counter one or more convenient basic arguments against benefits that I knew could throw even those who lost their job through no fault of their own .. for a quasi-legal loop..  

My employer didn't disappoint me, nor did the extra "informational letters" to  the unemployment department suggesting there were conditional eligibility issues that should be investigated by the UI department,  even though I had been laid off for a "lack of work".

I had medical proof from my doctor that I was able and available from the moment i applied for benefits, to  emails to and from  the comp management company, confirming they had "unintentionally" screwed with my leave's return to work date, as well as emails confirming I didn't refuse an offer of continuing suitable work when the company instituted a hiring freeze. 

Making Hard Choices to Preserve a Right to Collect

 After four months of receiving benefits, and looking for some job as far away from UI as possible, I thought my last employer and job were close to being just a memory.    

But, I wasn't just waiting for someone to call me for an interview.   I was busy  reaching toward a new goal to eliminate my reliance on being an at-will employee.

I wanted to learn if I could build a website all in the hope that someday, I would be able to say goodbye to the required job search for benefits and confining myself to only the status of being an at-will employee covered by unemployment insurance .. paid for by resentful employers.

As a novice, I chose to practice building a website by spilling my  guts about that last job, albeit I was undoubtedly focusing on how to get benefits vs. denying them.

It sincerely felt like the only reasonable way to go .. if all I was really trying to do, was practice by doing.  

Everything was moving along for me just fine.. until  the day my former employer called and asked me to come back to work .. doing my old job .. that had been "eliminated".

Lucky me,  I learned I would only be a  benefitless temp agency employee for at most, six months, but  we were all at the trailhead of a massive .. mega recession.

Although not thrilled I had no choice, but to accept, it was because I  knew they had me strategically speaking with a bonafide offer of suitable work.

I had no way to  disprove, nor argue legitimately that the offer was for UNsuitable work

Please Release Me .. Let Me Go?

It may be a song lyric, but to someone such as myself, it's a descriptor of a voluntary quit with good cause.

Six months through a staffing agency, turned into nearly three more years of coordinating the stuff that went into winning a first level unemployment hearing .. before the hearing .. only now, I was totally benefitless and yes, this bothered me even more than I wasn't being paid overtime .. for the thirty extra hours a week I had to put in on top of forty, to get through three hundred hearings each week.

But in 2009 something unexpected happened to me personally, medically speaking. It wasn't so bad I couldn't keep working .. just not without a work accommodation that limited the number of hours i worked to forty per week:)      

Ironically, the temp agency, and the cost control company must of forgotten I knew how to do my job, but doing it, also informed me about things an employer does incorrectly.

However, when they get away with doing things wrong .. it's usually because the employee doesn't know how the crap part of UI works on the assumption they won't figure things out until it's too late.

Why they never figured it out .. I don't know, but they didn't,  not when they appealed the determination allowing my benefits initially, and definitely not when they filed an appeal of the hearing decision to the board of review.

When the Time Came to Voluntarily Give Up My Unemployment Benefits

It was a BIG relief the day i received notification the Unemployment Review Board had dismissed the employer's appeal.

But something came over me in that moment, that forced me to make a choice that freaked my husband, for at least for a few minutes after I told him,  "I'm not going to collect the remainder of my benefits,  because I need to try to do more than simply answer more free unemployment questions that ask the same thing .. over and over.

Individual coaching and if possible referring people to hearing representatives seems the logical next step. 

Collecting unemployment benefits can do as much to keep any of us from thinking outside the box of only looking for more at-will employment. 

Ironically .. it was knowing the unemployment rules of conditional eligibility issues such as, not searching for work, spending my time in pursuit of being self-employed, or earning money from that pursuit while still certifying for benefits that kept me free of an unemployment fraud finding.

Here is the reason I think unemployed people don't get benefits, or lose first level unemployment appeal hearings right around seventy-five percent of the time ..

Well, at least about half of the 75%  are estimated to of lost because they didn't know how to argue, or use the rules of procedure while representing themselves.  

Every state has  a precedent unemployment decision thatbasically says the same thing.

 "It is the duty and responsibility of a party, not the court, to search for and uncover legal authority in support of the party's argument."

Uncovering the authority you need to support your best argument is what you need to find, no later than right before you go to the first hearing alone, or as a pro se unemployment litigant.

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