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Can I collect unemployment in California if my employer says he offered me a different job when he didn't

by Terry Barton
(Sacramento California)

Hello, June 16, 2009

I was hired full time by XXXXXX Foods LLC in California to build an import food business for nuts and dried fruit from Turkey and establish sales reps, customers and logistics in USA. After 4 months, the owner told me the market had turned down and they no longer had the capital to support this new venture and they let me go. I received a letter confirming this termination (downsizing) as well as details about final payment etc which he paid. I applied for unemployment compensation and was denied. The employer apparently told EDD that they offered me a different job and I refused. This was not the case. I was told I might be able to come in once a week, but no firm offer was made nor was there a salary mentioned either verbally or in writing. One day a week is not realistic and not something any reasonable person would accept for this type of work. I have a network of contacts in the industry and my reputation would be ruined because I would not be able to do the job correctly. For example if my workday was Friday and a customer called me on Monday, and unless I worked for free from home, I would not be able to respond quickly and they would be unhappy with me for poor service. There was no one else in the small company that knew the customers, sales reps or anything about the business (only one other employee - the bookkeeper). I assume the employer lied to try to save money on unemployment insurance. I need some advice on how to proceed with an appeal. I'm afraid it will be my word against him and the bookkeeper.

Hi Terry,

I think you need to read some portions of the Benefit Eligibility Guide.

If I were you I'd start with "suitable work", in particular SW5.

You have clearly stated above why you would have refused the job and although the employer has told the state you "refused an offer of work" they will need to show the offer was definite and suitable.

Other possible considerations would be the possible harm to your "reputation".

It actually sounds like a lack of work to me. But I honestly do not think the employers attempt to bar benefits will be sustainable under scrutiny from a California ALJ.

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