Unemployment Lawyers | Unemployment Attorneys
The process of collecting unemployment compensation can be lengthy and frustrating for anyone who is unfamiliar with the system. The attorneys at KM&A focus on employee unemployment appeal hearings, unemployment re-hearings, unemployment over-payments (fraud and non-fraud), Unemployment Compensation Board of Review “UCBR” briefings, UCBR remand hearings, Commonwealth Court appeals, and other unemployment litigation in Pennsylvania.
KM&A Employment Law Practice Areas
Do You Need the Help of an Unemployment Lawyer?
At a hearing, after you are sworn in, you are basically told “make your case.” Without an unemployment lawyer, you must deliver an hour speech that hits the correct legal points, introduces evidence (both documentary and testimonial), makes and defends evidentiary objections, and avoids making any egregiously damaging statements. Unrepresented parties often are subject to the referees questioning them as if it were a cross examination. This is an intimidating experience, often unfair, but it is reality nonetheless.
With a good unemployment lawyer in your corner, you will have invaluable assistance of an experienced professional who can prepare you, develop the hearing legal strategy, challenge the employer’s witnesses, and guide you through the contentious questioning from your employer’s unemployment attorney.
An unemployment lawyer can ensure you do not destroy your own case. Many tend to sink their own case because they just can’t stop talking and arguing legally irrelevant points.What is at stake is potentially over a year of PA and UC unemployment benefits. In an uncertain economy, your benefits may be the only financial lifeline available for you and your family. You need a thoughtful, attentive, and aggressive unemployment attorney to help you secure your rights and your benefits.
This is most likely your first time in dealing with an unemployment benefits appeal, but it is almost certainly not the first time for your former employer. Have you received a notification that your employer is appealing your unemployment benefits or do you wish to appeal the Notice of Determination which listed you as ineligible? This is the most common help that KM&A’s PA unemployment lawyers offer. Our unemployment lawyers specialize in appeal hearings and all levels of unemployment litigation.
What are the Top Reasons People Seek Unemployment Benefits?
- You were laid off due to lack of work
- You were fired without good cause
- You quit your job with good cause
- You had to leave your job because of domestic violence
- You needed to quit your job because of a personal reason
- You were fired through no fault of your own
- You were discriminated against
- You were fired for a seemingly minor or absurd reason
- You felt pressured to leave and couldn’t continue working
- You were told you would get your unemployment benefits
Do any of these reasons sound familiar? Our unemployment lawyers have secured benefits for people in all of these situations.
What type of help do you need? If you are not sure, call 412-626-5626 or 610-616-5686
Q & A Unemployment Benefits
Has Your Employer Appealed your Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits?
To avoid losing your hearing, you want an unemployment lawyer with a strong understanding of the legal issues, the ability to clearly articulate and advocate your case, and the knowledge to prevent the experienced employer from taking control at the hearing.
Perhaps you heard through your friends at work that your employer is going to appear at the unemployment compensation appeal hearing. This most often means that your employer is going to appeal your unemployment claim with an unemployment compensation attorney. Your employer will present a binder of reasons, documents, and witness statements only telling its side of the story. The employer’s unemployment lawyer is experienced and will take advantage of recently terminated employees when they are most vulnerable. In fact, many employers routinely petition to appeal unemployment benefits as a matter of practice. When your employer appeals unemployment compensation benefits, you need to be ready for them to come out swinging.
Has Your Employer or Notice of Determination Referred to your Termination as “Willful Misconduct?”
You can usually collect unemployment benefits after your employment has been terminated unless you were fired for willful misconduct. Willful misconduct includes serious offenses such as:
- Drug or alcohol use
- Illegal activities
- Other major infractions
However, many employers try to categorize relatively small incidents as “willful misconduct” in order to deny you unemployment compensation benefits. You need to be ready to fight this strategy. Under the “willful misconduct” standard, even an under-performing and accident-prone employee is still entitled to benefits, since his or her inability to perform the job does not fall under willful misconduct. Pennsylvania unemployment law includes volumes of case law interpreting exactly what willful misconduct is and isn’t.
Has Your Employer, an Unemployment Lawyer, or Your Notice of Determination Referred to your Termination as “Voluntary Quit?”
KM&A frequently hears questions about “voluntary quits” and eligibility for benefits. Generally, you must prove that you acted with ordinary common sense in quitting and made a reasonable effort to preserve your job. Once the employee has informed the employer of the problem, the burden shifts to the employer to offer a suitable accommodation.
For example, if you had a good reason, like a medical condition, and informed your employer of the need for an accommodation that was never granted, you may have a strong case. If an employee resigns to avoid certain discharge, eligibility for benefits will be determined under the willful misconduct provisions of the law rather than under the voluntary quit provisions. Since there is often not a standard, you need to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced unemployment attorney. We will only take your case after we help you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses.
For an unemployment appeal, employees have the option of hiring an unemployment appeal attorney or representing themselves. Employers who have a history of appealing unemployment claims will have an experienced lawyer on their side. An unemployment appeal lawyer can be the difference between winning or losing the appeal.
The purpose of a referee hearing is to present your case to a referee who will decide whether or not you should be eligible for unemployment compensation (“UC”) benefits. Your employer may show up as well and present his or her case as to why you should not be eligible for UC benefits.
To determine whether you have committed willful misconduct, the UC Service Center typically looks at instances in which you committed an act with intentional disregard to an employer’s policies or interests. It is your employer’s burden to prove your actions rose to willful misconduct. An employment lawyer can help you defend yourself if you are accused of willful misconduct.
What is the Risk of Losing your Unemployment Appeal Hearing?
It may help to see the investment in an unemployment attorney using a cost-benefit analysis. The money spent now protects dozens of weeks where you can collect hundreds of dollars per week. Considering all the weeks of unemployment benefits against the cost of an unemployment lawyer, hiring the best legal counsel makes sense.
Even if you are only collecting benefits for 10 short weeks, having an unemployment attorney on your side can protect your 10:1 payoff. We believe that no employee should ever fight an employment compensation appeal without an unemployment practitioner. An unemployment appeals lawyer’s importance cannot be overstated.
What’s the Deadline for Appealing the Denial of Your Unemployment Benefits?
The statute of limitations period on unemployment benefits is very strict. You generally have 15 days. Expedience is key, and an unemployment attorney can help ensure that you maintain your right to appeal.
What Happens if You Didn’t Have an Unemployment Attorney at your Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Hearing?
Clients in this situation are often at an insurmountable disadvantage compared to their former employer. Once the record is made during the hearing, the UCBR is bound by the evidence as admitted at the hearing. Therefore, the UCBR may see bad evidence that should have been objected to in the first place.
For example, a common situation at an unemployment compensation appeal hearing is that the employee and the employer’s Human Resources Representative attend the hearing. The employee, anxious and unprepared for what is to come without an unemployment attorney on their side, states their case which often amounts to “I didn’t do that,” or “it really wasn’t that bad,” or “yes I did that, but what was I supposed to do?” The employer’s HR representative then counters with witness statements, investigation reports, and other surprise evidence against the employee. The shocked employee may wonder, “how could these people say these things after I worked there all these years?” or “I can’t believe the HR person I knew all the years attacked me like that!” And all those things stated by the HR representative, all those witness statements, and any other documentation–if there is not a proper objection–will all be set in the record.
When you then try to appeal your claim to the UCBR, even the best unemployment attorney may not be able to salvage your case. The unemployment compensation hearing record is very difficult to change after the hearing. So you essentially have one good shot to get the best evidence on the record and one shot to keep the employer’s best evidence out of the record.
Why do Employers Fight Unemployment Compensation Benefits?
Although the employer doesn’t pay the unemployment benefits directly to the claimant, successful claims mean that the employer will pay a higher premium. Simply put, it makes financial sense for employers to oppose your benefits. And if you show up to the hearing without representation, that makes the employer’s case all the more easily won.
Employers know that when employees quit or are terminated for willful misconduct, they are usually ineligible for benefits. They will go to the unemployment compensation appeal hearing and do everything in their power to say that you quit or engaged in willful misconduct. Sometimes, that even includes false allegations and fabricated evidence. Without the right legal arguments and objections, you may lose your appeal and your benefits. Unemployment lawyers that represent employers generally recommend that they fight unemployment benefits when they are able.
File for Unemployment First.
If you have not filed an initial claim, please visit the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to file an initial claim. If your claim is denied, you should call an unemployment lawyer right away. Pennsylvania unemployment lawyers represent clients across the state. Our PA unemployment lawyers are available immediately if you need help.
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Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 215-618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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