Harrisburg Unemployment Compensation Lawyer
As soon as an Employee is suspended or discharged, a claim should be filed for unemployment compensation. A claim can be filed by telephone, by calling the phone number of the local UC Service Center as listed in the Blue Pages of the telephone directory (look for “PA TeleClaims-PAT) or on-line at http://www.uc.pa.gov/unemployment-benefits.
Applications are effective as of the Sunday of the calendar week in which the application is filed. If you wait to file your application a week or more after your date of separation, your claim will generally not be applied retroactively to the date of your separation. The bottom line is DO NOT WAIT to file your application if you want to get credit from the date of your separation.
Once the Application is filed, the Unemployment Compensation Service Center (UCSC) will conduct an investigation to determine the facts that caused the separation from employment. That investigation may involve telephone interviews as well as the preparation of a “Claimant Questionnaire.” The Employee should not delay in providing the relevant information to the UCSC representative since this may delay the determination regarding eligibility for benefits.
Once the UCSC concludes their investigation a Notice of Determination is issued which will outline the relevant facts of the separation and indicate whether the Applicant/Claimant is eligible for benefits under the law. If the Employee is determined to be ineligible for any reason, they have the right to appeal and to have a hearing before an Unemployment Compensation Referee. That appeal must be filed within 15 days from the date of the ruling on the Notice of Determination. Contact our Harrisburg unemployment compensation lawyers today.
Eligibility When an Employee is Discharged
Eligibility in discharge situations is governed under § 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Act. Under this section, the Employer has the burden of proof to establish that the Employee committed willful misconduct. Very often, an Employer will attempt to submit hearsay or other inadmissible testimony or evidence to support their claim. In Unemployment proceedings before a Referee, the Referee will generally follow the Rules of Evidence. Therefore, it is best if the Claimant has an experienced attorney to assist them to see that only relevant and admissible testimony is introduced into evidence. If the Employer fails to present competent, relevant and admissible testimony, to establish the Employee’s alleged willful misconduct, then the Employer cannot meet their burden of proof and, therefore, the Employee will generally be eligible for benefits.
Eligibility When an Employee Voluntarily Quits
When an Employee quits his or her job, they may still be able to obtain unemployment compensation benefits. Eligibility in this circumstance is governed by § 402(b). To be eligible for benefits, the Employee has the burden to establish that they left the job for a “necessitous and compelling reason.”
Frequently, an Employee will voluntarily quit their job because of what they believe to be intolerable working conditions. These conditions could rise to the level of “necessitous and compelling.” However, generally, the Employee must give the Employer the opportunity to correct the problem before the Employee voluntarily quits the job.
Employers will often attempt to convince the UCSC and/or Referee that a separation from employment was a voluntary quit as opposed to a discharge because it is more difficult for an Employee to get benefits if they voluntarily quit. This happens frequently in cases involving absenteeism. In cases such as these, the Employee should be vigilant in reporting their absences pursuant to the Employer’s call-off policy and making clear to the Employer, preferably in writing, their intention to return to the job when capable.
Eligibility When an Employee Suffers A Work Related on Non-Work Related Injury
When an Employee suffers an injury that prevents him or her from performing the regular duties of their job, they may still be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits. Under § 401(d), of the Unemployment law an Employee must be “able and available for suitable work.” If an Employee is released for light duty work that would allow him or her to perform some type of work in the local community, they are “able and available” regardless of whether they can perform their normal job duties. In cases such as these, it is critical that the Employee see a doctor to determine his or her work restrictions and to have those restrictions documented. If the Employee is available to perform “light duty” the documentation from the doctor should say so. Once documented, the Employee should provide those restrictions as well as a light duty release to the Employer and ask if the Employer has work available within the restrictions so that the Employer can offer, if available, any alternative work that fits within those restrictions. Typically, alternative work will not be available and the Employee may then be eligible to collect unemployment compensation. Once again, it is important to see that the Employee gets medical documentation releasing them for light duty as soon as possible so that there is no delay in receiving benefits. Contact our Harrisburg and Pennsylvania unemployment compensation lawyers.