If you have found a better job or are starting your own business, putting in your notice at work may be an exciting event, marking the end of the old life and the beginning of a new adventure. However, when it is not your choice, losing your job can be devastating. You may immediately start to panic about how you will pay your rent or mortgage, cover your electric bills, and buy groceries until you can find a new position.
Fortunately, unemployment benefits can help tide you over until you find a good job and get back on your feet. However, not everyone who loses a job qualifies for those essential benefits, and you may be wondering what to do next if your employer has contested your application for unemployment.
Was your claim valid?
Unemployment benefits come from taxes your employer pays into the unemployment system. Every time an employee successfully files for unemployment, the employer’s taxes go up for the next few years. For this reason, it behooves employers to contest claims for which they do not believe their former employees are eligible. Some of those reasons may include the following:
- You didn’t work at the job long enough to qualify for unemployment benefits.
- You voluntarily quit.
- You did not work enough hours during the week to be eligible for benefits.
- Your employer terminated you for illegal activity or behavior that violated the company’s policies or code of ethics.
- Your position classified you as an independent contract worker or freelancer.
Each state has its own laws governing unemployment benefits. In general, however, an investigator from Rhode Island’s department of labor will review a claim your former employer denies. You should expect an investigator to schedule an interview with you, and you should answer any questions truthfully and thoroughly. Telling the representative false information is fraud and may result in legal consequences.
What if my benefits are denied?
You still have a chance to appeal an unfavorable decision by the state unemployment office. This involves a hearing where you will present your case and present evidence and witnesses to support your claim for eligibility. On the other hand, if you should win your claim, your former employer also has the right to appeal.
Your employer likely has records and documentation of your employment, including evaluations and timesheets. You would be wise to gather as much of your own documentation as possible. Additionally, while your case is under appeal, you will want to continue filing for benefits so your payments will not stop.