Unemployment, also known as unemployment benefits or unemployment insurance benefits, is a type of payment that is issued to eligible individuals by a federal or state government agency unemployment benefits program.
In most cases, however, unemployment checks tend to be funded by state payroll taxes that are specifically set aside for this particular purpose. Thus, most unemployment benefits will be issued by government programs adopted by individual states.
Although each state has discretion to adjust unemployment eligibility factors and rates, most of these programs must comply with the requirements of federal unemployment and labor laws. The one exception being that different jurisdictions within a particular state may enact their own unemployment policies, so long as they comply with both federal and state labor legislation.
In addition, it should be noted that individuals may only collect unemployment benefits under very specific conditions. For example, workers who are fired for just cause, voluntarily leave their job, or considered to be self-employed, typically will not be permitted to collect unemployment benefits from a statewide program.
At a minimum, a person must be able to demonstrate that they meet the requirements of their state’s unemployment program guidelines and have lost or been terminated from a job for reasons that are beyond their control.
Therefore, if you believe that your state has wrongly denied your request to collect unemployment benefits, then it may be in your best interest to consult with a local employment law attorney for further legal advice on your matter. You can also review the requirements for receiving unemployment benefits in your state by visiting the designated claims website.
What Does an Unemployment Lawyer Do?
It is not necessary for an individual to hire an unemployment lawyer simply to file a request for unemployment benefits. Although there is nothing against hiring an unemployment lawyer for this reason alone, unemployment lawyers are typically only consulted when a claim for unemployment benefits is denied or especially complicated.
In general, the most common reason as to why an unemployment lawyer is usually hired is to help a worker file an appeal when their claim for unemployment benefits gets denied. An unemployment lawyer will assist the worker in filling out the necessary paperwork and can provide legal representation at their administrative hearing.
If a worker is still denied unemployment benefits after the appeal hearing, an unemployment lawyer may be able to appeal the decision of the administrative panel in state court. Accordingly, unemployment lawyers can provide guidance and representation throughout every stage of a state’s unemployment benefits appeals process.
Another major part of an unemployment lawyer’s job consists of bringing lawsuits against employers on behalf of workers. For instance, if a worker is denied unemployment benefits because their employer is alleging that they were fired for good cause, then a lawyer can file a lawsuit if the worker believes that their employer actually fired them because of their gender or pregnancy status.
What Types of Services Do Unemployment Law Attorneys Provide?
Depending on a client’s needs, an unemployment lawyer can provide many different kinds of legal services. Some examples of the types of legal services that an unemployment law attorney may offer their clients include the following:
- Drafting necessary legal documents to file a claim or related unemployment lawsuit;
- Assisting a client in completing paperwork to file for unemployment benefits;
- Providing legal representation in civil court or at an administrative hearing;
- Ensuring that their client is collecting the proper amount of unemployment benefits;
- Filing a lawsuit against an employer for an issue connected to why a client was denied their request for unemployment benefits;
- Helping a client to gather sufficient evidence to file a request for unemployment benefits or a lawsuit associated with a claim for unemployment benefits;
- Assisting a client in filing an appeal against a denial of unemployment benefits;
- Making sure that client not only satisfies the criteria for a state unemployment benefits program, but also meets all of the claim deadlines and other requirements; and/or
- Defending a client against charges that accuse them of committing unemployment fraud (note that this issue may require the assistance of a criminal defense attorney).
What are Some Common Types of Unemployment Disputes?
There are a number of reasons as to why an unemployment dispute might occur. Most of these reasons, if not all, are based on alleged violations of federal or state employment and labor laws. Some common types of legal issues that can cause an unemployment law dispute to arise may include the following:
- When a worker is terminated without just cause, but insists their employer terminated them for no real reason or for an illegal one (e.g., employment discrimination);
- If a worker is approved to collect unemployment benefits, but never receives them;
- When a worker believes they are entitled to full unemployment benefits, but is only approved to collect partial unemployment benefits;
- If a worker is permitted to collect unemployment benefits, but their employer alleges that they left the company without good cause;
- When a worker claims they upheld their duties to collect unemployment benefits, but the state program says they did not and thus cut short their benefits; or
- If a worker believes they satisfy the requirements of their state’s unemployment program, but the state denies their claim.
In addition, there may be other state-specific legal issues that will lead to an unemployment dispute. Remember, while each state does have to remain in compliance with federal employment and labor laws, states do have discretion to adjust certain criteria. For instance, a state may require a worker to either have worked a certain number of hours or earned a set amount of income before they are deemed eligible to collect unemployment benefits.
How are Unemployment Disputes Resolved?
The way that an unemployment dispute gets resolved will depend on several factors, such as state laws, the legal claim at hand, and the requirements of a state’s unemployment benefits program.
For example, if an employment dispute is based on an employer challenging a worker’s claim for unemployment benefits, then the dispute may need to be resolved through standard practices. These include filing a lawsuit in court, handling it through mediation or arbitration, or negotiating with an employer for a fair settlement.
On the other hand, if the unemployment dispute involves a state government agency denying a worker’s request for unemployment benefits, then the worker must appeal the denial by submitting the necessary paperwork and attending an administrative hearing. As mentioned above, if a worker’s request for unemployment benefits is also denied by an appeals panel, then the worker will need to appeal in state court if the option is available in their state.
Again, it is important to keep in mind that the requirements and the laws governing each of these procedures will vary by jurisdiction. As such, some states may not allow a worker to appeal an administrative panel’s decision in state court.
Where Can I Find an Unemployment Law Attorney?
There are a number of places that a worker can look to find an unemployment law attorney. Aside from asking personal connections like friends and family, a worker can perform a brief online search using one or more of the following key phrases:
- An “unemployment benefits lawyer near me”;
- An “unemployment attorney near me”;
- An “unemployment lawyer near me”; or
- In situations that call for an appeal, an “unemployment appeal lawyer near me”.
A worker can also register to use LegalMatch’s services. LegalMatch offers an extensive database of different types of attorneys, including unemployment lawyers. With LegalMatch, a worker can instantly be connected to an unemployment benefits lawyer near them and can even find out the amount that the unemployment lawyer cost.
In addition, a worker can consult the website for their state’s unemployment benefits program. A worker can also visit the websites for their local and/or state bar associations as well. Other resources that workers can use to find unemployment attorneys include non-profit organizations, advertisements, phone books, attorney referral services, and legal aid providers.
Should I Hire an Unemployment Law Attorney for My Case?
As previously discussed, it is not necessary to hire an unemployment law attorney to file a claim for unemployment insurance or benefits. It may be in your best interest, however, to consider hiring a local unemployment law attorney if your claim for unemployment benefits has been denied. An experienced unemployment law attorney will be able to discuss the laws and procedural requirements that apply under the laws in your state.
An attorney who practices law in your area will also be able to help you navigate the process for claiming unemployment benefits in your state and can inform you of your legal rights under the relevant laws. In addition, your attorney will be able to assist you with completing the necessary legal forms and any supplementary paperwork. Your attorney will also be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your unemployment benefits claim.
Finally, if you need to file a complaint with an administrative agency or to file a private action against your employer in civil court, your attorney will be able to help you with either of these procedures as well. Your attorney can also provide legal representation at any legal proceedings related to your unemployment benefits matter if permitted and/or necessary.