About Me and Unemployment Tips

Hi, my name is Chris.  Given I know how I can rattle on .. even when typing, here's a list of things I believe you should know about me, before, and/or after reading one of the free unemployment tips I've offered over the years. 

  • I'm a woman, not a man. 
  • I'm passionate, but that tendency, is tempered by the pragmatic side of me, which I think was fully developed while I coordinated unemployment appeals for employers for close to a decade before I got a questionably bright idea to offer tips to unemployed claimants.
  • I decided to offer "tips", after I became unemployed through no fault of my own from that job 2006, but due to circumstances caused by the unemployment claim management company that laid me off,  I continued to work for them for nearly three more years as an employee of a temp staffing agency until I was forced to voluntarily quit for medical reason .. and with good cause in 2009.
  • I do not share my last name on this website because by the time I wrote the first page for it, back in 2007, I knew  knew emphatically why that would've been a bad idea for me, or any other unemployed employee, choosing to submit their own question, story, or tip about unemployment, for publication on a public blog.
  • Unemployment Tips has a facebook page, should you decide you like it.  But because I think FB is generally a time suck my life could do without and not the proper medium to speak freely about ways to avoid a denial of benefits, I mostly post what I think might be good food for thought for employees and once in a while I may post something in the news about being an employee .. that simply, outraged, or inspired me when I read it.
  • I sincerely hope the questions, and/or answers found on this website, may explain why I know you'd be better off as a claimant, if you can able to afford the assistance of  a professional unemployment hearing representative  to prepare to collect as an employee, or to get, or keep unemployment benefits, at a first level unemployment appeal hearing.

Why Offer Unemployment Benefit Tips to Unemployed People

Because in 2006, everything was all about me and I decided I was going to learn how to build a website , or at least be able to say, I tried .. to challenge myself to learn something new.

And besides, I was recently out of a job .. through no fault of my own therefore I had more than quite a bit of extra time on my hands .. after I cleaned our basement after learning how to auction it off on Ebay.

As a way to hedge the bet I could learn more,  I decided to build a website and write about what I learned about unemployment insurance while a hearing coordinator as a way to practice. 

To understand what was driving me at the time, just know it was significant to me that I had been laid off while on an approved FMLA leave and my former employer still decided they would indiscriminately fight my unemployment benefits.  

I don't know I'd of made this decision to choose UI as my niche, rather than a hobby site .. about one of my hobbies, had I known the part of website building I thought would be most difficult to me, anything smacking of being slightly technical, had for the most part truly been eliminated by the website builder I chose to go with because it promised it worked for people like me and it included tools, I had priced out at costing way more than the $299 dollars.

And in 2019 .. that still what I pay to build and host this website each year.

In hindsight, which I believe is not an ideal time to learn any lesson life deems to teach us, I'm happy to report I don't regret going with my gut and choosing the tips to advocate to employees why it's so important to have a clue about how unemployment works before losing a job through no fault of your own .. rather than writing about how to take advantage of clueless employees, as just one of the many reasons employers choose fight unemployment claims for erroneous reasons.

What Made My Unemployment Story Unique Me?   
It Happened to Me of Course!

If you are able to conceive why collecting unemployment should be something that works out to your favor, it follows you may also need to conceive what could make things not work in your favor, just so you can guard against those things.

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?

Work in Progress  .. A Potential Newsletter

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.

Have an Employment / Unemployment Story to Tell?

In 2008 I began answering individuals questions. It was my way to try out the blogging tool provided by the website builder I use, to this day.

I sort of went overboard. By the time I had answered over two thousand questions .. somewhere around the end of 2010, I began to feel like a one trick pony .. and darnit, I'm not.

But I really liked and missed interacting with those who visit and use this site first.

If you have story about a job, an unemployment claim feel free to use the blogging form below and I will react, if I have something to add I think might help.

This is the only blog form left on this website, aside from the one for feedback.

Stay anonymous .. because know one but you needs to know what you're doing online, other than looking for more suitable work .. and logging your job search to satisfy the UI department .. in the event you're unlucky enough to be contacted for a random job search audit. No, I'm not kidding.

Of course you can also email me to keep things private.


What Others Had to Say About Working Smart

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