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Already had phone interview and won unemployment. Now ex-employer is appealing. Do I have a case?

by Anonymous
(New Jersey)

I am in the state of NJ.


I went on state temporary disability in June for a chronic illness. My employers were made aware and we kept in constant contact. They got me set up with disability through the state with the proper forms.

In August, I was notified that my employment was terminated as per the employee manual in regards to disability (not due to performance or gross misconduct). I was given UI paperwork for when my disability had ended.

Received an e-mail from ex-boss in early December asking what my plan for work was once my disability had ended. I advised them that I was still on disability and that returning to that company would be detrimental to my health because of the stress. I had already been terminated and didn't feel that I should have to go back to a place that was such a hostile environment. My illness created cognitive issues and I would not be functioning the way I was prior to going on disability and explained that to them. They stated that they understood and to call if I wanted to do freelance work for them.

My disability claim ended 12/29 and I filed my unemployment claim, which became effective as of 1/3/10. I received a notice of a claims examiner phone interview to be held on 2/1, after I'd already been approved for UI and had received 2 checks for refusing suitable work. The phone interview went well and it was not only conclusive that returning there was not suitable work, but would be detrimental to my overall health and well-being. They approved my benefits and I've been looking for other jobs and collecting since 1/3. Mind you, the claims examiner asked my ex-boss if as of 2/1, my position was still available and she responded that it was not and they had offered it to someone else since December (when I was still disabled).

I received a letter in the mail earlier this week stating that my ex-employer was appealing their determination. What do you think my chances are in this situation? I truly feel as though they are now doing it to be spiteful.



Hi,
I believe your chances of retaining benefits is good because you established with the department a refusal was with good cause due to the type of work and your current medical limitations.

Additionally, if that job they offered was filled by the time you were released to work .. I don't think the employer would have a case because they can't prove a refusal or offer of work once you became available, but they might try using that phone call where they offered you freelance work, which is not an offer of employment, but self-employment meaning it isn't the sort of employment considered covered by unemployment insurance.

Additionally, that offer in December would be a hard thing for an employer to prove as a firm offer of "suitable work" to support there is any merit for a denial based upon a refusal

Chris

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Mar 04, 2010
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Thanks!
by: Anonymous

You are awesome. Thank you. The e-mail in December actually only said, "What are your plans for work?" There was no offer of a position at all in any of the e-mails.

Here was my response:

"Right now, I think returning to XXXXX would inhibit my recovery. I have to think of what's best for me in the long run. I am not able to work at the same capacity as I was when I left on disability. I am not able to do the same work as I had been doing because brain fog has seriously impeded my thought process. It's embarrassing and frustrating. I couldn't put you guys or myself through that. I forget a lot of things or don't comprehend things as quickly anymore. The stress from that alone will send me into a relapse and that's not something I can chance. Please understand where I'm coming from."

Her response after that was:

"I understand completely, appreciate the honesty. I just wanted to know your status and see if we could benefit each other at some level. If at any time things change and you feel up to doing
some freelance work give me call."

I actually e-mailed them again after I was cleared for work asking what I needed to put on my UI application (Discharged/Fired, Laid Off, etc;) She responded saying: "You were discharged based on company policy regarding disability leave as stated in our company handbook, Section 3, page 8. XXXXX can not hold a position open beyond 8 weeks of Disability Leave." She did not mention anything about a job being available at that time and no offer was made. She was made aware that I was cleared for work and was filing for UI.

I actually received a "Notice of Receipt of Appeal". All it says is "The appellant's communication has been received and is under consideration by the Appeal Tribunal as an appeal for an agency determination. All interested parties will be advised of whatever action is taken in this matter at the earliest possible date."

Does this mean since it was my employer appealing that they look over the file and either uphold or overturn their decision or am I definitely getting a hearing?

Thank you again! You are one of the only people out there who is so helpful to those of us who are really not UI savvy on here. We appreciate you!




Mar 04, 2010
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There will be a hearing ... someday
by: Chris

Hi Again:)

It's an appeal acknowledgment .. they all say pretty much the same thing, but trust me .. the "tribunal" or the appeal department will schedule a hearing .. If it were an appeal of a hearing decision .. I wouldn't be so sure.

Those emails .. are clearly favorable to your case .. therefore valuable at hearing.

My opinion .. they're toast.

I just answered a question from a guy named Luke in NJ who told me his benefits were stopped because he decided to go back to school. He was told he would have to wait 16 to 20 weeks for his appeal hearing .. so don't hold your breath waiting for the next communique from the state:)

I am glad I know about this stuff .. because I can share what I know, but WOW .. when I started this .. I had no idea we were headed for the worst economy since the great depression .. I'm exhausted:) so I dearly thank you for the kind words.

Good luck .. you seem pretty sharp and clear to me .. and I didn't notice any brain fog:)

Chris

Mar 05, 2010
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Sounds good.
by: Anonymous

Some days are great and some days are not so great with my brain fog and cognitive skills. Thankfully, between yesterday and today, my days have been good. Unfortunately, my previous job was in a very small office and if I were to return and wasn't up to the par I was at before I left, I'd never hear the end of it. This same boss told me that my blood pressure was up because I was "so overweight" while we were in the middle of a very stressful spring season (and they hadn't hired anyone to replace the two people who'd left) last year, right before I relapsed. They are not very understanding when it comes to illness or someone's limitations.

Thank you again! I can let you know how long it takes for me to receive the next notice from the state. I'm hoping it's a phone interview.

Take care!


Hi NJ,

Personally, I find unemployment benefits b-o-r-i-n-g .. but it's what fills my days because I always find myself pondering the human stories behind the need for benefits.

We are a fascinating lot and it always seems to me it's the low points that exposes the true character of a person, be it in ourselves or the reaction of others to the low spot we're in.

Keep getting better and look forward .. to hearing back from you.

Chris


Mar 08, 2010
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Claimed Benefits Today
by: Anonymous

Claimed UI benefits as they told me too, and it seems as though I'll be getting paid as usual until the appeal hearing. I really do wonder though, that if NJ is in such a backlog with appeals from employees, if they will take one look at my case and determine that their ruling will stand instead of going through the process of a hearing. All of the e-mails I posted were actually given to UI for my eligibility phone hearing on 2/1 when they made their last ruling.

Any idea if this has ever happened?



Very doubtful. I think that would be a disruption of the "appeal rights" everyone is entitled to if they disagree with ruling, regardless of whether the appeal if frivolous or not.

Mar 08, 2010
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Thanks again!
by: Anonymous

I promise not to bother you anymore. You have plenty of questions to answer. I am just satisfied with the fact that I am still getting paid until (if) they determine otherwise after an appeal hearing.

A friend of mine whose father in law works for UI told me that NJ is actually further backlogged than even 16-20 weeks with appeals. They are receiving upwards of 40,000 calls per day. If that's the case, I will most definitely have some sort of job lined up by then.

Best of luck to you with all of these questions coming in. I will let you know the outcome of my situation when I hear back from the state.

Mar 31, 2010
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Appeal Hearing Scheduled!
by: Anonymous

Just an FYI, I got my appeal hearing date in the mail yesterday. It's set for Tuesday, 4/6 at 9AM and is a phone hearing. It didn't take more than 4 weeks to receive the date, so I'm guessing they've started to catch up on scheduling the appeals here in NJ.



I would say so. That is what I consider a normal period of time to deal with each phase of the process. In fact I know the federal guidelines strongly suggest 30 days as the amount of time to resolve an appeal.

I'd say that's good news.

Anyone else finding this is true too .. that NJ is catching up on the backlog of hearings?

Apr 06, 2010
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Appeal Hearing
by: Anonymous

Guess what? I called UI this morning at 8:30 to give them my information to prepare for the phone hearing. I got a call back about 10 minutes later saying that my employer had withdrew their appeal and would no longer protest it. Thank you again for all of your help.



Hi:))))

I use to get great satisfaction withdrawing frivolous employer appeals

Ya-hoo!!!!

Chris

Sep 09, 2012
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New Jersey Unemployment Phone Interview
by: Anonymous

I am very nervous about being turned down for UI benefits. I was fired from my job for breaking company protol. I put my claim in over almost three weeks ago. I have a family to support and a disabled spouse and children. I am just a wreck this is the first time I've been fired from a job and tomorrow morning the interviewer is calling me. Does anyone have ideas to help me remain calm and will they have my former employer on the phone during the interview. I live in NJ can someone please get back to me reguarding this. I had already received my prepaid debit card. Money is running out so quickly not to mention bills are behind and my rent is behind.



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