Unemployment Insurance – Dancing with the Devil

getting unemployment insurance... is it worth it?  I have a lot of opinions on unemployment insurance (UI). I went through the process from start to finish while looking for my job. I worried that the state would cut off my UI, or after-the-fact would do an investigation and want me to pay some of it back. I wasn’t doing anything wrong but, hello, we’re dealing with a system that is broken, and many people abuse it, and I think there is little fairness or recourse for state misconduct. It’s scary. It’s humiliating and humbling. For me and my family, it was necessary to carry us through.

A long-time reader has recently lost their job after just a couple of months (and before that, a long bout with unemployment). Here’s a question from her:

I was let go (fired) because of “unsatisfactory work performance” according to the employer. I am trying to fill out the unemployment form asking my side of why I was let go. I am wondering what I can put on the form that is the truth, but will help me get unemployment.

When I was hired my boss told me I might need to work a few extra hours a few days a month. I was there 55-60 hr every week and still couldn’t get everything done that they wanted. The expectations were too high. The company went in and fired everyone in another location and sent us boxes of stuff that was far from organized.

They expected us to figure everything out in a few days, which is very hard since this other branch did things their way and didn’t have organized files. I was told when I started that it takes 3-5 months to figure out what you are doing and they let me go after 2 1/2 months.

I am a hard worker and willing to put in overtime, but this definitely wasn’t a good fit.

What do I write on the unemployment form, so that I can get some money for a few months until I can land another job?

I’ll have my biased thoughts on UI later – how would YOU handle this problem?

5 thoughts on “Unemployment Insurance – Dancing with the Devil”

  1. I’m a lawyer but the following is not legal advice. You should speak to an employment law attorney in your jursidiction. Alternatively, some law schools and bar associations host programs in which students offer “pro bono” services to clients who need unemployment assistance. I represented some clients in New York. If you’re in New York, contact the Unemployment Action Center: https://www.uac-ny.org/index.php.

    Now, here’s my opinion (not advice):
    In most jurisdictions, you get three categories: unjustifiably fired, quit for cause, lack of work. You would have to file under unjustifiably fired. If the employer disputes this you can file an appeal in most jurisdictions. Usually you would get a few weeks unemployment before they tell you there’s a dispute and ask you to either pay back the money or file an appeal. It’s a real pain.

  2. My first call would be to an employment law attorney. The states vary significantly on the rights of the terminated employee. However, the description of the work conditions make a pretty good case that the employer’s actions would be viewed as unjustified termination. She may also be able to file a claim for any unpaid overtime, which sounds like it would be more than UI anyway.

  3. I don’t know whether the company will even fight it, especially if you have a lawyer. Is it a big company or small company? Were there others fired at the same time, and if so were they treated as you were and would they testify for you. All this might help, good luck.

  4. I work for Iowa Workforce Development. We still have the initial fact findings over the phone. If we processed this claim, I believe the lady would win, unless the employer showed the smoking gun. Failure to please the employer is no reason to deny unemployment insurance. Some employers just can’t be pleased.

    By the way, I’ll be blogging about Iowa Unemployment Insurance soon, so search for them. I can’t really address how things work in other states, but I can relate how things are done in Iowa.

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