Hi, my name is Chris and as I stated up front, I coordinated unemployment appeal hearings.
I worked for for an unemployment cost control company. I was not an unemployment attorney. I was just another non-attorney employee, who sometimes had to cold call employment attorneys to ask if they would represent a client .. in some states requiring one.
If you're unclear why I think what I learned doing my job might matter to you, it's because it doesn't matter which side is being helped .. it's the rules that can be worked for an argument to collect unemployment benefits, or deny them.
If you want to know the advantage my job gave me, when I needed to exploit an advantage of knowing the rules, here's my unemployment story. It began in 2006 and never really ended in my own mind, until I finally quit my job in 2009.
Now that it's 2019, I'm still an average women, albeit older. But I still know this about unemployment tips. They are best served to responsible and accountable employees, while they still have a job.
All because once you lose a job through no fault of own, you can't travel back in time for the sake of creating evidence to serve cold at an unemployment hearing .. whether you're proving, or rebutting the burden of the moving party.
If you can preconceive how collecting unemployment should be something that works out to your favor, it often involves preconceiving why it might not work.
In 2006, I was informed I would be laid off (position eliminated due to a reduction in force).
No problems yet, because being laid off, is in fact, a clear indicator benefits will be allowed. This is because after you apply for unemployment, the employer should reasonably respond and confirm on a form notifying them of your claim, the reason for you being unemployed is a lack of work .. and reasonably, how can that be the fault of an employee.
But my employer (who helped other employers with unemployment insurance claims) was different .. because I already knew I could also be relegated to being another SSN on a charge statement .. to eliminate.
I was grateful I had the job I did, because by 2006 I'd had years of seeing how my employer could connect dots from a separation, to unemployment benefits laws.
Suffice it to say .. I know why hindsight, is not the best perspective to make these connections from.
The phone call, from the branch manager at the unemployment cost control company I worked at, gave me enough pause, I felt compelled to immediately confirm I had my RTW (return to work) date, on my FMLA paperwork, correct.
Of course I had to drag myself out of bed to find the FMLA paperwork, which had arrived while I was in the hospital.
Surprise, surprise, (not really) the date was not correct and I was grateful for my habit of reviewing documentation .. just to be sure I had my facts straight.
The date was literally not the same one my doctor had told me he thought I'd likely be able to go back to work.
Problem was the FMLA paperwork indicated my employer should expect me back at work, before date of the appointment that had already been set up .. and when I, or my doctor expected I'd be ready to go back to work.
In a nutshell, the official RTW (return to work) date was well before the date of my appointment .. and the date I was told I'd be laid off on.
I tried to fix this, but wouldn't you you know it, my doctor was out of the office .. on a European vacation and he wouldn't be returning in time to keep me from appearing as a voluntary quit if I wasn't released by him to return on the incorrect date on my FMLA paperwork.
Was my employer actually trying to set me up as the moving party who must prove good cause, for ending an otherwise at-will employment relationship .. before I was laid off.
Of course they were ..
Shift this .. all give you a burden.
Everything I documented was via emails, because who would I be to insist documenting the truth of a situation is how you weight the truth to become the credible facts.
A document can prove a verbal conversation took place and confirm what was said during the conversation vs. having to deal with an answer "I do not recall" at a hearing .. verbally.
All I needed to do was ask the FMLA claim management company correct the return to work date to a week later, which would literally put it on date I was being laid off ..
In the end, it took me two weeks worth of conversations and then an email to document the conversation because of a stubborn FMLA claim rep before she finally relented .. hopefully because she clearly knew the original RTW date .. was wrong .. and I could now prove it .. if pressed.
Anyway .. I felt successful eliminating any argument I had voluntarily quit .. by not returning from an approved leave of absence.
But it still wasn't time to let my guard down .. in fact, I don't think there is ever a good time to do that .. while an employee, or collecting unemployment benefits.
Shortly after being released by my doctor, my former employer offered more reason to be concerned about my future eligibility.
The branch managed emailed me .. instead of calling me, just to let me know she'd love it if I'd come in and apply for some of the open positions within the company.
An email is a document .. therefore, it's potentially evidence and this time the issue I was concerned about .. was suitable work .. specifically, refusing suitable work.
I applied for several different jobs .. other than hearing coordinator, but the one I was offered sent chills down my spine. Tax auditor. I couldn't say ugh! enough, but knowing what I did I accepted the offer .. thinking I might end up fired for poor job performance (which I thought I'd also be ready for) .. and all because I couldn't think of any viable argument that would make the offer .. for unsuitable work
I got a reprieve though. I received another phone call from the branch manager. She was apologetic for needing to withdraw the job offer, but there was now a company wide hiring freeze.
Of course being me, slightly obsessive/compulsive about documenting .. just in case I might need to prove some truth, to be a credible fact, I emailed her my thanks for the offer and my great disappointment it was withdrawn .. and why.
Funny to think about now, but a couple weeks later I got another phone call .. this time from the unemployment department informing me there was a new question about my continuing eligibility.
Did you refuse an offer of suitable work? Oh no, I wouldn't do that. I have an email I can send you explaining the offer of work was withdrawn .. if that will help resolve this issue.
Couple months later my former employer called me again .. this time to offer six months of work as a temp employee doing my old job as a coordinator .. if only I was willing to work through a temporary staffing agency.
Unfortunately, my opinion of temp staffing agencies in general, isn't great as far as employers go .. and you can bet it would of been the last place I'd ever willingly look for a permanent job .. working as a temporary employee .. given many states have special voluntary quit provisions .. just for temp employees.
1. I coordinated hundreds, if not thousands of hearings for many different temp companies.
2. Working for a temp staffing agency can for some be like getting stuck in a loop you can't see a way out of .. at least not without having to fight for unemployment benefits even if you have a legitimate lack of work claim.
A six month temp assignment turned into a three year stint as a benefitless employee of a temporary staffing agency, whose client, my former employer .. was still the one I coordinated hearing for after they had eliminated it as a permanent job.
In 2006, before I was laid off, I worked approximately 45 to 55 hours coordinating on average 50-80 appeal hearings a week. I appreciated the overtime.
By 2009, I was still a temp employee was expected to handle 300 to 400 hearings a week in forty hours .. as official overtime was no longer allowed, even if job performance was still required.
So .. what's a person to do if working under those circumstances?
Suck it up .. until you get sick .. again?
n 2009 .. I developed a weird disorder/syndrome, that affected my depth perception, which made driving at night .. dangerous for me and others.
My doctor said it could be stress related. So he asked a reasonable question. Is anything causing you excessive stress?
Of course.. my job. I work seventy hours a week without any overtime pay to get a job done my employer claims is doable in forty hour .. which brings to the real question .. why am I still choosing to drive home in the dark .. if I know the dangers.
The rest is history. I took that diagnosis and ran with it .. to my temp employer, and my former employer, now the client I had been working pretty much steadily for, minus the time off for FMLA over the last decade .. or so.
After I felt I had exhausted all reasonable attempts to preserve my job, to ask (documented to) for a simple accommodation of only having to work 40 hours a week .. what can I say except the temporary staffing agency and it's client, my former employer, couldn't see why that would be in their best interest and instead thought I was an unreasonable employee who would cave to feeling forced to make a decision that flew in the face of my own medically documented best interest .. from my doctor.
So, reasonably and quasi-legally speaking, I voluntarily quit a temp assignment for good cause, but I did not quit working for the temp staffing agency.
Given my state's is one of those with a special voluntary quit provision for temp employees, I followed up on the law, when I reached out by phone and email to the temp staffing agency withing 48 hours of the end of the last assignment, to request a new one. I was told in no uncertain terms that because I had chosen to quit my last assignment .. I was clearly a "do not use".
I don't know about you .. but that sounds a lot like being fired .. for refusing to work under conditions my doctor had advised were harming my health .. and my employer expected me to ignore.
After the temp agency ( the initial determination was appealed for them by the former UI claim mgmt. company) lost all appeals tribunal and board level .. I stopped collecting benefits .. and started asking .. how about a referral to a professional, qualified unemployment hearing representative for a free initial consultation?
In the eleven years I've been active on this website about unemployment benefits, I've never been tempted to write a newsletter about benefits, but you never know, someday I might want to write more about how we choose to work for our living.
In 2008 I thought answering individuals questions about their unemployment claim for benefits, was the way to go.
I consistently used my the perspective through my job experience as a hearing coordinator, to point to point at advantages and disadvantages, even if they may not of directly offered me much information, but I picked up on anyway. All for the goal I might help at least one person, even if not them, to see things via the same experience that proved itself invaluable to me in 2006 and again in 2009.
When I have something I want to share, I use the blogging form below.
If you have a story related to your job to share, or an experience with unemployment benefits, please feel free to share below too.
Just know my main tip, if you do share, is to remain anonymous,especially if you think you will ever need to seek a new and fresh at-will employment relationship .. as required by unemployment insurance law .. everywhere to be conditionally eligible to collect for any reason.
Of course you may also email me, if you have a question you think I should be able to answer.
Click any link to read.
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