Termination and Unemployment

Saving Your Job

Leaving Your Job

Wrongful Termination

At-Will Employment

Plant Closings / Mass Layoffs

Severance

References

Coping With Job Loss

Sample References

Federal Employees – Discipline and Removal

Personnel Files

Personnel Files – State Law

General Information About Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Eligibility

Unemployment Amount Calculation

Unemployment Appeals

Unemployment Discrimination

Filing an Unemployment Claim in Your State

 

Saving Your Job


How can my job be saved?

Whether you have been laid off, downsized, or fired for cause, you have many important decisions to make within the first few hours and days. If you have been with the company for a long time and/or have a job you really love, your first decision might be to fight to keep your job.

Before you panic or pack up your belongings, think about any scenarios under which it might be possible for you to stay with this employer to accumulate more service time and possibly bridge any time needed to fulfill the requirements of your pension or other retirement plan. At the very least, continued employment, no matter how brief, can provide some continuity and income while you are looking for another job.

The first thing to do is get a handle on your employer’s policies and practices regarding termination. Go to your human resources or personnel department to obtain a copy of the company’s handbook or personnel manual, or any other written statements of company policies or practices for handling employee complaints or concerns.

If your employer has no set policy, or if the appeals or grievance process that exists has provided you with no relief, there are other methods to exhaust before accepting termination. Find out who has the authority to reinstate you. This could be your immediate supervisor, a department head, an ombudsman, or even the president of the company. Go as high up the chain of command as good sense permits if you really want to hold on to your job or find employment elsewhere in the company. You have nothing to lose and may salvage more than you thought you could.


Keep your cool

No matter what the outcome of your attempt to save your job, you will be better off if you remain calm and only sound off to your family and friends – far from the work environment. Angry letters or outbursts make it easier for the company to believe they were justified in terminating you in the first place and to refuse to negotiate with you or your lawyer at a later date. No matter the reason for your termination, go out with dignity. You can acquire a reputation as a problem employee from one emotion-driven tirade. Keep your head, and you can keep your pride as you close this chapter of your working life. For ideas on preparing a letter to your employer about your termination, please review our page on sample letters.

The name of the game at this stage is strategy. You want to win this war and not just the first battle. Therefore, you must consider what is likely to hurt your chances and what is likely to help. If there is a particular supervisor you are sure is on your side, or someone else in top management who is friendly and aware of your good record, you could request a private meeting to explain what you want to do to keep your job and why the company needs you on its team.


Explore your options

Once you get the ear of the individual with the authority to rehire you, be prepared to be flexible as well as confident. While your ultimate goal is to get back your job, that may not be a realistic expectation. Make clear your willingness to consider part-time work, contract work, a transfer to another location or subsidiary, or retraining for another position.

Moving to another area or division within the company could be especially helpful if the termination was caused by difficulties seeing eye-to-eye with a supervisor or manager. Or, if you suspect that one of the reasons the company let you go was the size of your salary, you could try offering to accept a different pay package, for example one with a lower salary and a performance-based bonus. If your company cites poor performance as the reason for your termination, try asking to return to work on a probationary basis to establish your ability to meet the job requirements.


File your appeal

If informal efforts to save your job are not successful, you may need to take more formal steps within the company. You must follow the official grievance or complaint process to the letter in challenging your termination. This is true whether it is set out in a handbook or manual or has been explained by company personnel. Ordinarily, such internal appeals or grievance procedures require you to act within a certain amount of time and to communicate with only specified company officials. At each step in the process, you should make a written request for reinstatement to your position and document the company’s responses to your arguments. Be persistent but professional. You must exhaust the company’s internal grievance procedures before you do anything else to try to get your job back.

Union employees clearly have an advantage when it comes to appealing an unfair or illegal termination. They have detailed grievance procedures to follow. They have designated representatives for arbitration if necessary. Most non-union employees have to figure out for themselves what steps will be most likely to produce a desirable outcome. If their immediate supervisor was the problem, how far up the ladder should they go to lodge a complaint? And if they appear to be doing an “end run” to a higher-level manager or administrator, will they be doing themselves more harm than good?

If you want to save your job, you must take whatever steps are appropriate to initiate an appeal at the earliest possible moment-when you first learn that you will probably lose your job or as soon as you receive an official notification.

This is a selection from Job Rights and Survival Strategies by Paul H. Tobias and Susan Sauter.

Leaving Your Job


Leaving with options

Take a cautious approach to everything that you and your employer say and do about the termination. Anything your employer puts in writing about your termination and the documents you sign before leaving can have important implications for your future. If it’s important enough to be in writing, it’s important enough to examine with a fine-toothed comb. Ask questions and seek an outside opinion if you don’t fully understand the answers before you agree to or sign anything.

You will probably see a lot of papers before your last exit. Some, like a summary of your retirement plan status, are fairly routine. However, if you are asked to sign any type of document, take your time. Read the document thoroughly to make sure you understand what you are signing.

Before you take your final leave be sure to obtain letters of reference, make certain you understand the reason for your termination, negotiate the best severance package possible, and make use of all outplacement services available.

At this stage your goals are twofold: avoid burning bridges and keep lines of communication open while you still have one foot in the door.


Verify the reason for your termination

If you were fired, attempt to obtain a written statement of the reason(s) for your termination. In some states, your employer is required to give you, upon request, a statement in writing of the reason for your termination. This statement is called a “service letter.” States currently requiring such a letter are: California, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington.

If you cannot obtain a statement in writing ask your supervisor or manger to tell you the reason. Then write down for yourself the stated reason and include the date, time, and place (and any witnesses) that the statement was given. Read it to the supervisor and make a note of the date he or she confirmed its content.


Important differences between resigning and being terminated

When the end of your career with the company seems imminent, or if your working environment has become unbearable, you may be tempted to simply terminate the employment relationship voluntarily by tendering a resignation. Sometimes, a resignation can be helpful. When you apply for new jobs, you can honestly say that you quit the company voluntarily. Your employment record at your old company should reflect that you quit and not that you were fired. For some large companies with numerous affiliates or divisions, an employee who resigns from the job is eligible for rehire with the company at a later date, whereas an employee terminated for cause would not be.

However, the difference between being fired or discharged and voluntarily quitting is significant in a number of ways. Whether to resign or be fired is a matter of strategy and depends on the facts of your situation. Before you resign, consult an employment attorney if you can. An attorney will be able to give you specific information about how a resignation will affect your position. The information below gives some of the general reasons that resignation can be either helpful or harmful depending on the circumstances.

It may be that your employer wants to fire you and is making life at work difficult for you, hoping you will quit. The company may refrain from terminating you out of fear that the dismissal would be illegal. Under these circumstances, you may be better off not resigning. If you resign voluntarily, you may be unable to claim an illegal discharge. Assume your employer wants you out but doesn’t want to take the possibly unlawful step of discharge. You then can increase your bargaining power with your employer by staying and refusing to resign. You can use the company’s desire for your departure as leverage for obtaining a generous separation package in exchange for your resignation. In general, you should try to remain at the job as long as you can to increase your bargaining position. Finally, if your company has an internal grievance procedure, you can appeal the wrongful discharge. If you quit you may not have the right of appeal and your chances of regaining your job (if that is your objective) would be greatly diminished.

If your employment situation is unbearable because of illegal discrimination, you should still try to remain on the job as long as possible. Meanwhile, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the state agency that investigates claims of discrimination. You are protected from retaliation for filing an EEOC charge or contacting an EEOC investigator. Therefore, any plan to fire you may be put aside at least while the investigation is going on, since the employer does not want to appear to have fired you for filing with the EEOC. For more information about filing a discrimination claim, please see our section on discrimination.

Ordinarily, when an employee proves that he or she was discriminated against by a former employer, the employee is entitled to “back pay,” the amount that the employee would have earned at the company had he or she not been discriminatorily terminated. However, if you resign your position because of harassment or discrimination, you would not be entitled to recover back pay unless your resignation is considered a “constructive discharge.” To prove constructive discharge, you must prove that your employer made your working conditions so unbearable that you had no other choice but to quit in order to resolve the situation. Usually, you have to show that you tried less drastic means to solve the work problems, such as using an internal appeal process or making complaints to people in the chain of command. A constructive discharge is very hard to prove except in cases of truly egregious harassment. Thus, a resignation might seriously affect your ability to recover for an employer’s discriminatory behavior.

As stated earlier, resignation is a matter of strategy and depends on the facts of your situation and your needs after you leave the company. You must obtain and read all company documents relating to all of the financial issues discussed before you make the offer to resign, and you are strongly encouraged to consult an attorney. Whether to quit a job when you think you might want to take legal action against your employer is too important an issue to be left to chance.


Get letters of reference

Prospective employers usually ask for references. If you ask them not to contact your former employer, you raise a red flag. A company considering hiring you will probably call your boss anyway, since they don’t actually need your permission to call. So, before you completely cut your ties with your employer, find out what your company would say about you to prospective employers. Then try discussing what information you do or do not want released.

It is not illegal for an employer to give out truthful information or opinions about your work. Do not assume that your employer is prohibited by law from giving more than “name, rank and serial number.”


Get letters of reference

Prospective employers usually ask for references. If you ask them not to contact your former employer, you raise a red flag. A company considering hiring you will probably call your boss anyway, since they don’t actually need your permission to call. So, before you completely cut your ties with your employer, find out what your company would say about you to prospective employers. Then try discussing what information you do or do not want released.

It is not illegal for an employer to give out truthful information or opinions about your work. Do not assume that your employer is prohibited by law from giving more than “name, rank and serial number.”


Don't burn your bridges

Anger is a natural response when you lose something as important as your livelihood, especially if you feel that your termination was unfair or unlawful. However, giving in to your anger only hurts you and hinders your attempts to regain your job or make progress toward finding a new job. Don’t write your employer a letter in which you finally get off your chest all those things you’ve wanted to tell your supervisor or employer for years about the horrible way the company is run and the rotten way you’ve been treated. Such letters never help you, and often hurt. They are usually regarded as confirmation that the company’s decision to fire you was correct and proper.

Do not write anything that could be considered an admission that you deserved to be fired. Don’t accuse others, especially your supervisor or manager, of misconduct or being incompetent. Remember, just about everyone who could actually help you get your job back will be part of management, and they usually stick together. Don’t threaten anyone with physical harm or massive litigation. Examples of harmful threats include:

  • “I’ll get you for this!”
  • “You’re going to be sorry you messed with me!”
  • “I’ll sue you for every dime you’ve got!”
  • “You just bought yourself a million dollar lawsuit!”
  • “You fire me and I’ll go to 60 Minutes and tell them what really goes on around here!”

Threats will get you nowhere and ordinarily will backfire. A threat of physical violence or extortion might even land you in jail. Likewise, don’t make critical remarks about the company, your boss, co-workers, or anyone else in the company. Disparaging comments and threats will label you a troublemaker and damage your position.


Keep a record of events

Keeping a record of events that occur in connection with your job loss will assist you in filling out unemployment compensation forms and in pursuing legal action against your former employer, if you decide to do so.

Memories are often inadequate to recall events with accuracy. List the date, time and place of the event and witnesses. If possible, discretely obtain the home address and home telephone numbers of these individuals.

Try to construct a time line and chronology of important incidents. List important conversations – who said what to whom. Pinpoint the dates as closely as possible. Later, when you need to recall dates and events, you will have a fairly reliable source to turn to.


Think twice before signing anything state

Don’t sign any “release” of legal rights or final “settlement’ of claims until you either consult a lawyer or are certain you understand all its terms. Releases and settlements written by an employer ordinarily contain a lot of terms that protect your employer. They are not written to help or protect you. Remember, these are the people who just let you go. If they want you to sign something, you can be sure it’s for their benefit, not yours.

What is a release? A “release” or “release of claims” is a legal term for a written statement signed by an employee in which the employee gives up all rights he or she may have to challenge his or her termination and/or to sue the company for its past illegal conduct. A release is like an official pardon given to the company for its unlawful behavior. When you sign a release, you give up valuable rights.

While releases and settlements are common when an employer and employee attempt to reach some kind of resolution of their disputes, you should be suspicious of a release or settlement agreement that your employer insists you must sign immediately, without reviewing it or having it reviewed. You will probably need some time to determine if you have a legal claim that you do not want to give up. Don’t be afraid to ask for a week or two weeks to consider and review the release, and if necessary to contact a lawyer for counsel and advice.

For employees over age 40, a release of claims is especially complicated. The Older Workers’ Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires an employer to include certain provisions to make a release of age discrimination claims valid. Some important provisions include the right to consider the release for 21 days before you have to sign it, and the right to revoke the agreement within seven days after the date of signing. If your employer requests a release in exchange for special downsizing benefits that are available to a group of terminated employees, certain statistical information must also be furnished to you. You are strongly encouraged to have such a release reviewed by an attorney before signing it. You should not release the following:

  • Future claims. Only agree to release the company from liability for any claims that exist up to the date the agreement is signed.
  • Pension or retirement claims.
  • Workers’ compensation claims.
  • Claims unrelated to your employment with the company or not arising out of your employment with the company.

For more information on the OWPBA, see our page on age discrimination.


Non-compete clauses and restrictive covenants

Carefully review any “non-compete” agreement or “restrictive covenant” you may have signed at the time you were hired. If you signed such a document, you probably agreed not to accept employment in the future with a competitor or engage in other business activities that could compete with the company. The agreement would specify the length of time and geographical range of the restrictions.

Non-compete agreements are generally valid, enforceable contracts if they are entered into without coercion and if they were executed either (1) at the time of hiring or (2) after the employee had already been hired and the employer was providing some incentive or giving something else of value (in legal terms, “consideration”) for the employee to sign the agreement. Usually, the consideration provided by the employer in the second situation is a raise in pay, the ability to participate in stock options, or a promotion to which the employee would not otherwise be entitled. In many states, an agreement that an employee signs after beginning employment or at the time of termination is not valid unless, as stated above, the employer provides consideration to the employee to enter into the agreement.

Reasonable restrictions on your ability to work in a business that competes with your former employer are usually lawful. Whether the agreement is deemed reasonable ordinarily depends on the duration of the restriction (one year? two? five?); its geographic limits (are you prohibited just within your city or does the prohibition extend nationwide?); and the activity prohibited (contacting customers, using information or special training obtained through your old employment).

A one-or two-year restriction within a small geographic location is common and will generally be upheld. One that lasts much longer or restricts you nationwide may be unreasonable. Unreasonable restrictions are not lawful and will not be upheld in court. A court can, however, modify the agreement and enforce reasonable restrictions on your ability to compete. If you violate a non-compete agreement, your former employer may go to court seeking an injunction or court order to stop you from working for a competitor and also to seek damages for any lost profits you may have caused.

Don’t assume that simply because your agreement seems unreasonable to you that you are free to ignore the agreement completely and accept employment with a competitor. The “reasonableness” of any particular restriction depends on how the court interprets it. Interpretations vary widely from state to state. It is best to seek legal advice to determine whether the restrictions placed on you will hold up in court.

Both you and a new employer may encounter legal problems if you violate such a non-compete agreement. Your new employer may soon be your old employer if you fail to disclose the existence of the non-compete agreement before you are hired. You should tell your new employer about the restrictive covenant and get their agreement to hire you despite the restriction. You may want to consult a lawyer about the validity and reasonableness of your non-compete agreement and the consequences of violating it.


Confidentiality requirements

Many release/settlement agreements include a provision which prohibits you from discussing the terms of a special severance package with anyone. Such provisions are common. In most cases you will be prohibited from discussing the terms of your special severance arrangements with your family (spouses excepted), friends and co-workers. In exchange, the confidentiality agreement should also require the employer to keep confidential the terms of the agreement and the circumstances of your discharge.

Confidentiality requirements in settlement agreements are not the same as the duty of an employee not to disclose his ex-employer’s trade secrets and other confidential information. You have a duty under the law to keep and protect your ex-employer’s trade secrets and not to use them for your own benefit.

This is a selection from Job Rights and Survival Strategies by Paul H. Tobias and Susan Sauter.

Wrongful Termination


What is considered a wrongful termination?

“Wrongful termination” is a phrase that is often misused and may be confusing. People often believe that they have a lawsuit for wrongful termination any time they have been fired unjustly. However, wrongful termination from a legal perspective describes a situation in which the employer violates a specific law, public policy, or the terms of an employment contract by firing you. Many of those laws have their own enforcement mechanisms, and so a separate legal claim for wrongful termination may not be necessary. There is no federal law against wrongful termination, and therefore what is considered to be “wrongful termination” will vary by state, with some states not recognizing a separate legal claim for wrongful termination at all. If your employer has not violated a law, public policy or employment contract, then your employment is most likely “at-will employment” and your termination alone does not violate the law or give you a right to go to court.


What is at will employment?


At-will employment refers to the legal principle applicable to most private workplaces in the United States. At-will employment means that the employer or the employee can end the employment at any time, with or without advance notice, and for any reason–or no reason–at all. Wrongful termination is a very limited exception to at- will employment. Please refer to our At-Will Employment page for more information.


Can discrimination be considered wrongful termination?

Yes. Since discrimination on the basis of specific protected categories violates federal and/or state law, being terminated for that reason is being terminated for an illegal reason. If you can show that you were terminated based on your race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, or age (or other legally protected categories), your termination could be considered wrongful termination. Most states have their own enforcement mechanism for discrimination cases, and are therefore not brought as wrongful termination cases.  For more information, please see our Discrimination section.


What is considered an employment contract?

A termination may be wrongful if it violates an employment contract. However, most employment in the private sector is at-will, as discussed above, and is not performed under a contract. A contract may be written or oral, and express or implied. For more information about employment contracts, please refer to our Contracts page.


What is considered a written promise or an implied promise in an employment contract?

Although most employees in the private sector do not have employment contracts, some information that employers put in writing may qualify as a contract. A written contract or other document that promises job security at the time of employment may be considered a legally binding promise. A written contract with the terms outlining the methods of termination can also be enforceable.

Even promises not made in writing can sometimes be considered binding implied promises.  Verbal promises or gestures that an employer has made may seem hopeless because they are hard to prove. However, implied contracts have been found where employers promised “permanent employment” or employment for a specific period of time, or where employers set forth specific forms of progressive discipline in an employee manual.

When determining whether an implied contract exists, the court may consider various factors such as: duration of employment; regularity of job promotions; history of positive performance reviews, and more.


What is breach of a good faith and fair dealing in an employment contract?

Some states permit unfairly terminated employees with employment contracts to bring a claim for a breach of the duty of “good faith and fair dealing” that is implied in all contracts. These acts may include anything from firing or transferring employees to prevent them from collecting sale commissions to coercing employees to quitting without collecting severance pay or other benefits. This is not often recognized as an exception to at-will employment, but might be applicable in your state.


What are considered violations of public policy?

If an employer fires an employee for reasons that society recognizes as illegitimate grounds for termination, it is considered a violation of public policy. These reasons may include: firing for taking time off work to vote or serve on a jury or even notifying authorities about some wrongdoing harmful to the public (whistleblowing).


What is considered whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is when an employee gives information about the employer to a regulatory agency or other authority that causes the employer some type of fine or hardship. You can find more information on our site’s whistleblowing page.


Can I be fired for whistleblowing?

No. You cannot be terminated for whistleblowing, assuming of course that your claim for whistleblowing meets the applicable legal requirements. This would undermine the policy of the state, since other employees would be afraid to report their employer’s wrongdoing if they knew that the employer could legally fire them for doing so. You can find more information on our site’s whistleblowing page.


What do I do if I think I have been a victim of wrongful termination?

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, it would be wise for you to contact an employment attorney and also seek unemployment benefits. Working with an attorney will help you determine if you were actually wrongfully terminated and where to go from there. Seeking unemployment will help ease the financial hardship, while you seek new employment.

At-Will Employment


Can my employer terminate me without a good reason?

It depends. If you are working under an employment contract, the terms and conditions of that contract will dictate what your employer can fire you for. If you are not under an employment contract, you are considered an at-will employee. As an at-will employee, your employer may dismiss you without reason at any time, as long as that reason isn’t illegal under state or federal law. For example, your employer may not fire you because of your race or sex, or because you engaged in whistleblowing because state and federal laws protect people from discrimination and from retaliation for whistleblowing.

Additionally, as an at-will employee, without any contractual obligation to continue work, you may quit your job for any reason at any time. You cannot be forced to work for an employer and you don’t have to give your employer a reason for quitting.


Are there any exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine?

Yes, there are several exceptions. You are not an at-will employee if you have a contract, including a union collective bargaining agreement. If you are covered under an employment contract, you can only be terminated as the contract terms and conditions permit. If the employer does not follow the contract in terminating or disciplining you, you may have a breach of contract claim and should consider speaking to an attorney.

A handbook or personnel code may also be a contract, depending on the state. However, it may be that only certain clauses or issues in the handbook or personnel code are considered part of the contract. You should consult your own state’s law to determine if your state considers handbooks to be contracts between employers and employees and to what extent.

If you are a federal employee, you are always protected from any termination that violates the United States Constitution or the constitution of the state in which you work. For example, a federal employee’s rights to freedom of speech, association, religion, or freedom from unlawful search and seizure may be at issue when they are terminated.

For more information about the rights of federal employees see the Federal Employees Legal Survival Guide and our Federal Employee Discrimination page.

An employee may not be terminated for an illegal reason such as their race, sex, age, religion, nationality, or disability. If you believe you were terminated for such a reason, please see our section on discrimination for additional information about the different types of illegal discrimination and how to file a discrimination claim.

Plant Closings / Mass Layoffs


WARN

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act offers some protection to workers, their families and communities against plant closings and/or mass layoffs, by requiring employers to give their workers sixty days notice before a plant closing or mass layoff. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (such as a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government. To find out more about whether and how you may be protected by the WARN Act read below.


Is my employer covered by the WARN Act?

If an employer has 100 or more full-time employees it is generally covered by WARN. Employees who have worked fewer than 6 months in the last 12 months or those who work an average of less than 20 hours a week are not counted as part of the 100 employees required for coverage.

Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered.


Am I covered by the WARN Act?

The WARN Act covers hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees. Business partners are not covered and therefore not entitled to notice under the Act.

If you have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or worked an average of less than 20 hours a week, you are entitled to receive notice, but you will not be counted when determining whether the WARN Act applies to your employer.


What triggers the requirement for my employer to give me notice?

There are three events that may trigger the need for your employer to give you notice under the WARN Act:

  • plant closings,
  • mass layoffs, or
  • when 500 or more employees are laid off at a single site of employment.


What qualifies as a plant closing?

For the purposes of the WARN Act a plant closing happens when your employer shuts down a facility or operating unit within a single site of employment and lays off 50 or more full-time workers during any 30-day period.


What qualifies as a mass layoff?

For the purposes of the WARN Act a mass layoff is defined as a reduction in force that is (1) not the result of a plant closing, but (2) leads to an employment loss at the employment site[TE1] of 500 or more employees during a 30 day period, or a loss of 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer’s active workforce.


What qualifies as an employment loss?

The term “employment loss” means:

  • An employment termination, other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement;
  • a layoff exceeding 6 months; or
  • a reduction in an employee’s hours of work of more than 50% in each month of any 6-month period.


How long before I lose my job must my employer give me notice?

There are exceptions, but if WARN applies, employers are required to give you at least 60 days written notice before a closing or layoff.

It is very important that you receive written notice of your impending job loss. Verbal announcements by your employer, pre-printed notices included with your paycheck, and/or company press releases do not count as notice.


What if my employer didn't know 60 days before that his or her business was closing? Is my employer in violation of the WARN Act?

Not necessarily; there are three exceptions to the 60-day notice requirement. An employer is not required to give a full 60 days notice if s/he could not reasonably foresee the circumstances that led to a layoff or closing at the time that the 60-day notice would have been required.

The exceptions to 60-day notice are:

Faltering company: The faltering company exception covers situations where a company has sought new capital or business in order to stay open and where giving notice would ruin the opportunity to get the new capital or business. This applies only to plant closings;

Unforeseeable business circumstances: This exception applies to closings and layoffs that are caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would otherwise have been required; and

Natural disaster: This applies where a closing or layoff is the direct result of a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, drought or storm.

If an employer provides less than 60 days notice of a closing or layoff and relies on one of these three exceptions, the employer must prove that the conditions for the exception have been met.

Nonetheless, notice must always be provided as soon as it is practicable. When notice is given in less than the 60-day timeframe, the employer must include a statement of the reason for providing less than 60 days’ notice in addition to fulfilling the other information notice requirements.


How do I receive notice if I may lose employment?

It depends on whether you are represented by a union or not.

If a union represents you, your employer must give 60 days’ written notice to the union. Your union representative will decide how and when you are given notice.

If you are not represented by a union, notice must be given to you directly.

However, if your employer has a “bumping system” and there is no union contract things may work differently. Your employer must make a “good faith effort” to determine who will actually lose their job as the result of the seniority system. A bumping system allows a worker whose job has been cut to choose from a number of other jobs, which may lead to other workers being displaced. Because of the complexity of the bumping system, it can be very difficult for your employer to predict exactly who’s going to lose their job.. If your employer cannot exactly predict who will lose their job as a result of a complex bumping system, your employer must give notice to the person whose job is being eliminated even though that person may later bump another worker.

Your employer must also provide notice to the State dislocated worker unit and to the chief elected official of the unit of local government in which the employment site is located.


What must the notice say?

The notice must contain the following information:

  • An explanation of whether the layoff or closing is permanent or temporary, meaning 6 months or less;
  • The date of layoff or closing and the date of your separation. If your employer gives you notice that you will be separated within a two week period, they are required to give notice 60 days before that period;
  • An explanation of bumping rights, if they exist; and
  • Name and contact information for a person in the company who can provide additional information.

All notices must be in writing. Any reasonable method of delivery designed to ensure receipt 60 days before a closing or layoff is acceptable.


Does an employer have to comply with the WARN Act if it closes a temporary facility?

No, an employer does not need to give notice if a plant closing is the closing of a temporary facility, or if the closing or mass layoff is the result of the completion of a particular project or undertaking. This exemption applies only if the workers were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the duration of the facility, project or undertaking. An employer cannot label an ongoing project “temporary” in order to evade its obligations under the WARN Act.


Does the WARN Act cover me if a plant is shut down because of a strike or lockout?

The WARN Act only covers you if you are a non-striking employee who lost your job as a direct or indirect result of a strike. Strikers and workers who have been locked out in labor disputes are not protected under the Act.


Am I protected if my employer sells its business?

If your employer sells all or part of its business, there are certain protections for all affected employees:

  • If the sale by a covered employer results in a covered plant closing or mass layoff, the required parties must receive at least 60 days notice.
  • The seller is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs up to and including the date/time of the sale.
  • The buyer is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs after the date/time of the sale.
  • No notice is required if the sale does not result in a covered plant closing or mass layoff.
  • Employees of the seller (other than employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week) on the date/time of the sale become, for purposes of the WARN Act, employees of the buyer immediately following the sale. This provision preserves the notice rights of the employees of a business that has been sold.


I didn't lose my job, but my hours have been cut in half. Am I covered by the WARN Act?

Yes. Included in the legal definition of “employment loss” in the WARN Act is a reduction in an employee’s hours of work of more than 50% in each month of any 6-month period.


If I am required to transfer, am I covered by the WARN Act?

It depends. If you are offered a transfer by your employer within a reasonable commuting distance, or if you accept a transfer within 30 days of losing your job, your transfer is not “employment loss” for the purposes of the WARN Act.

In both cases, the transfer offer must be made before the closing or layoff, there must be no more than a 6 month break in employment, and the new job must not be deemed a constructive discharge. A constructive discharge is when significant changes are made to an employee’s wages, benefits, working conditions, or job duties.


I've been laid off, but only temporarily. Am I covered by WARN?

It depends on how long you have been laid off. The definition of “employment loss” in the WARN Act requires that an employee be laid off for a period exceeding 6 months. If you have been laid off for 6 months or less you will not be covered by WARN.


I was only hired for work temporarily. Do the WARN rules apply to me?

No. If you were hired with the understanding that your employment would be limited to the duration of the facility, project, or undertaking, your employer does not need to give you notice.


My employer verbally announced at an all-employees' meeting that the plant was closing. Does this count as notice?

No. discussed earlier, all notices must be in writing. A verbal announcement at an all-employees’ meeting, or smaller employees/supervisor staff meeting does not meet the WARN Act requirements.


How do I determine whether I am considered a full- or part-time worker for the purposes of receiving a WARN notice?

If you work a regular schedule of 20 hours or more each week and have worked for your employer for more than 6 of the last 12 months, you are a full-time worker. If you work a varying schedule, you determine whether you work an average of fewer than 20 hours by looking at:

  • The period since you became employed, if your total period of employment is less than 90 days; or
  • The most recent 90 days.

Overtime is not included in this determination. See The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act Guide to Advance Notice of Closings and Layoffs for examples.


Who enforces the WARN Act?

United States Federal courts are responsible for enforcing WARN. Workers, representatives of employees, and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits.


What remedies are available to me?

An employer who violates the WARN provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. The employer’s liability may be reduced by such items as wages paid by the employer to the employee during the period of the violation and voluntary and unconditional payments made by the employer to the employee.

An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. This penalty may be avoided if the employer pays each affected employee within 3 weeks after the closing or layoff is ordered by the employer.


How do I file a complaint/How long do I have to file?

If you think that you have a claim under the WARN Act, contact an attorney right away. Although it varies from state to state, there are strict time limits in which claims under the WARN Act must be filed. It is very important to check your state laws to determine the statute of limitations for your claim; these can vary from a few months to a few years.

As you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring!

Severance


What is severance pay?

Upon termination, especially when employees are terminated through no fault of their own and/or have worked for the employer for a considerable amount of time, some companies have a policy of giving the terminated employee severance pay.  Severance pay is not required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); how and whether an employer chooses to grant severance pay is at its discretion.

Each employer is different. The employer’s personnel manual or policies may or may not have a written policy on severance. Or its policy may state that severance will be paid on a case-by-case basis.


Who is eligible to receive severance pay?

Although employers are not required to do so by law, many give severance pay to some or all permanently laid off or terminated employees. Employers who grant severance pay usually calculate it according to a set formula, based on the employee’s length of service.

Even if your employer doesn’t offer severance pay, or you are not eligible based upon company policy, you can try to negotiate for more severance than the company offers, especially if you have been with the company for many years, have an excellent service record, or have provided unique services such as being a team leader or bringing in large clients to the company. Sometimes employees who have quit their jobs because of intolerable working conditions can also negotiate for more severance pay than would normally have been provided.


My employer wants to make a lump sum payment of my severance pay. How does that work?

A lump sum payment is a one-time payment in full of the amount of severance pay that you and your employer have agreed to. A lump sum payment gives you immediate funds to invest or use. If you receive a lump sum, your other fringe benefits will usually cease as of the date of the payment. A lump sum payment is taxable, and the employer may withhold at a higher rate than usual if it puts you in a higher tax bracket, so you may wish to consider deferring part of the payment until the next calendar year to avoid having a greater amount withheld.


My employer has offered to pay severance by continuing my salary, even though I no longer work there. How does that work?

When an employer agrees to salary continuation, the employee ordinarily remains on the payroll for a specified length of time and receives pay at the end of each pay period as if he or she were still working. During this time, the employee’s benefits, such as health insurance, ordinarily will continue. You can ask for continuation for a set number of weeks, or until you find another job. Generally, state laws will not permit unemployment compensation during the period of salary continuance.

Salary continuation is a fairly dependable method of payment of a settlement because the payments are regular. Once an employer agrees to salary continuation, the information is given to payroll personnel who send the actual checks. The manager or supervisor who authorized the payments generally has nothing more to do with it.

However, if the employer agrees to pay periodically over a long period of time, there is room for error and oversight. Missed or late payments are not uncommon. Such uncertainty can sabotage your financial planning and lead to unnecessary conflicts.


Can I cash out my vacation and sick pay when I leave the company to use as severance?

Contrary to popular belief, there are very few states with law giving you the right to “cash in” your unused vacation or sick time when you leave employment. Most companies that do have a policy regarding payment for unused leave differentiate between employees who leave voluntarily, those who are laid off, and those who are fired for misconduct. If your employer’s policy provides for payment of leave, and you are accused of misconduct, you will either have to negotiate with your employer for payment or sue in court for “breach of contract.” Unless the amount of unpaid leave is substantial, legal action is probably not worth the investment of time and money.

References


How important are references when I am looking for a new job?

If you are like most people looking for work, you probably haven’t given your references much thought. Instead, you have focused on your resume, interviewing skills, networking, and what to wear to the interview. However, in these days of tighter job markets and increased security risks, you can be almost certain that you will be investigated by a prospective employer. As a rule of thumb: the better the job and the higher the pay, the tougher the screening process will be for prospective employees. When a prospective employer has completed the first round of interviews and you are among the top candidates, its next logical step is to check your references and interview those individuals to whom you reported.

Your biggest concern should be the quality of your references and recommendations from past employers, because they can make or break your chances of finding future employment. About half of all references that get checked range from mediocre to poor, so it is very possible that the job you lost out on at the last moment had nothing to do with your skill level. It could have had more to do with what a reference or past employer said about you.


I'm starting a job search. What should my strategy be for dealing with references?

If you are looking for a new job, remember that a poor or even lukewarm reference can sometimes cost you the job you want, while a positive reference may help ensure you stand out above other candidates also under consideration. Here’s a ten-step strategy for making sure that your references help you rather than hurt you:

  1. Make a list. Start by making a list of all of your prospective references, beginning with the first job that is relevant to your career today. You need to select those who have carefully observed your job performance, who have seen you in action and hopefully performing well in adverse conditions. But be aware that whether you list them or not, your past employers will be contacted. Other individuals that may prove to be useful as references include: colleagues; subordinates; suppliers & clients; volunteer committee members; pro bono clients. In most situations, you will not want to use relatives as a reference: do you really want Uncle John regaling a prospective employer about your antics as a youth? Be sure to gather all important contact data about every potential reference including: name; title; company; address; telephone number; fax number; and e-mail address.
  2. Narrow the list. After you have made your list of references, select those that you feel will be most willing to give you an excellent report. A typical list of references should include five to ten names, depending on the amount of experience a candidate has accumulated.
  3. Contact your references personally. It is very important to contact each of your references personally. Stay in touch over coffee, over the phone, or by sending them a note stating that you are job hunting and would like to use them as a reference. Be sure to share with your references your current resume and let them know about the position(s) you are applying for as well as the type of qualities the company is seeking. Give them the impression that their references are critical to your obtaining the job.
  4. Confirm your personal information with your references. Refresh their memory regarding the position you held, go over your past responsibilities, and remind them of solid results and accomplishments. It is also not a bad idea to visit the HR Department, if your former employer has one, and verify that all information in your personnel file is correct. Data entry or communications errors are not unusual, so be sure that your HR department’s records correspond to yours. Conflicting data will be perceived as a big negative to a prospective employer, as unfortunately it may be assumed that the job seeker is lying.
  5. Conduct a personal interview. You should also try to learn what your references are going to say about you. If your references have time and are willing to do so, go over with each reference what they will say in response to questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Be upbeat and try not to take things personally. During the conversation, update your reference on what you are doing, and how you have been adding experience and turning old weaknesses into new strengths. If they feel you are aware of your own weaknesses it may lead them to say you are open-minded and that you strive to grow professionally. One key skill in the workplace is effective communications. Your reference will feel comfortable stating you are a good communicator if you have filled them in on the “who,” “why,” “what” and “when” of your career path.
  6. Be prepared ahead of time. It pays to take the time early in your job search to identify and prepare your references. You do not want to lose out on a good position because you did not have your references prepared. You can even use your references as very effective networking tools, by mentioning that you are currently seeking a new position and asking if they would mind if you used their name as a reference. Ask them if they know of any current job openings in your field. You can also tell them what you have been doing since the last time you worked with them. Not only is this the courteous thing to do, but it also keeps them updated on your career. A reference who is well informed about the progression of your career will be a much better reference.
  7. Communicate with your references throughout your job search. To avoid burning out your references, you don’t need to call them about every single job opportunity. But when a specific offer or known reference check is on the horizon, let your references know the name of the company who has you under consideration and who may be contacting them for a reference check. When you advise your references of the company name in advance, they are more likely to feel comfortable giving out information about you and to understand the importance of returning the call in a timely fashion.
  8. Follow-up with your references. When you get your new position, make sure you call your references and advise them of your new position. Keep them posted about your career, so that when and if you need them in the future, they will feel warm about you.
  9. Pay attention to details. When giving out references, always check to be sure you are using the correct telephone number, area code & company name. With today’s mergers and fast-paced business environment, things are changing daily. However, if you list an incorrect telephone number, or if a reference has taken a position elsewhere, it looks as though you are totally out of touch with your references. Although letters of recommendation can be helpful, you need to make sure that the information on your letter of recommendation is still correct by contacting the reference periodically and obtaining new letters if the old letters have outdated information.
  10. Consider using a reference-checking service. If you want help in providing good references or if you find that you are losing too many opportunities after several interviews with an organization, you might want to commission a professional reference-checking service. These services typically operate as follows: They will contact your reference and simply state that they are calling to do an employment verification and reference check on (name of client). Typically the reference assumes the service is considering hiring that individual or the service has been hired to check them out for a company that is considering hiring them. The service should never disclose who has actually hired them to perform the reference check, which allows you complete confidentiality and the ability to use their information in court if necessary.


What are some examples of questions that my references will commonly be asked?

While there are very specific questions that are mainly used to confirm that the information you’ve provided is true, such as:

    • What is your relationship to the candidate?
    • When did the candidate work for you and what were their responsibilities?

Many of the questions will be very general, giving your reference a chance to say as much as possible about you, such as:

      • What are the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?
      • Would you hire this candidate again? Why or why not?
      • Would you hire this candidate for our position? Why or why not?
      • What was it like to work with/for this candidate?
      • Is there anything else you would like to add about this candidate?

Therefore, while going through the steps in question 2, it is important not only to think of references that have good things to say, but those that can say a lot. A reference that does not say a lot comes off as not knowing you well enough to be helpful to your potential employer.


My former employer doesn't allow anyone to give out references. Do I need to worry about contacting my supervisor there?

An increasing number of employers have adopted a policy of only verifying employment, with job title and dates of employment the only information that can be released about former employees. One source estimates that about 70 to 80 percent of American companies forbid employees from giving out extensive references. In many situations, this policy was borne out of actual or potential legal problems encountered by companies where the individuals giving references said too much, or occasionally too little.

It is important to know your company’s policy on giving references. State and federal law varies as to how much disclosure is legally permitted, so it is important to know which regulations and policies govern your company. However, reference practices are ever changing and therefore very volatile because of shifting company policies, new employees in HR departments, new laws governing references, and company liability for giving references.

References and past employers won’t call and warn you that they are not going to be complimentary. For example, experts in the field have learned that the higher the position under consideration, the more freely references divulge damaging information. If someone had a problem with you and doesn’t want to see you working (or even if someone really liked you and wants to help you land another job), they can and will break company policy. Although you might have assumed that company policies to only confirm limited information will be strictly followed, sometimes information is shared more subtly. For instance, if a reference doesn’t return two or three calls, that raises a red flag. Here is just a sampling of the damaging comments HR people and line managers hear when they check references:

      • “Our company policy prohibits us saying anything. We can only verify dates of employment and title.” (Then the reference goes on to say something like, “Check his references very, very carefully.”)
      • “Are you certain he gave my name as a reference?”
      • “After we settle our lawsuit…”
      • “Let me see what the paperwork says I am able to give out regarding _______.”
      • “Is he still in this field?”

If you have concerns about what your references might say about you, a professional reference-checking service may be able to assist you. While your references may range from stellar to negative, when you know what someone is going to say about you, you can pass on your best references with greater confidence. You will also have the opportunity to stop references from saying things that are inaccurate. More recently, some have used positive references obtained by reference checking services to assist them in their court cases. While the purpose of checking your references should not be to file a lawsuit, it is important for you to know the quality of your references and whether former employers are passing on personal opinions, conjecture, rumors instead of accurate and legally-allowable facts.


I put down the senior vice president of my former company as a reference, since we worked together on several projects and had a great relationship, yet the former employer called my direct supervisor (with whom I didn't get along so well). Why didn't the company use the reference I gave them?

It’s important to know reporting relationships when considering what prospective employer may do in a reference check. Even though you’ve given the senior vice president’s name as a reference, the prospective employer may still resort to calling the director you reported to if she can’t reach the senior VP. Although you didn’t use that person’s name as a reference, it may have been on the application that you filled out. You may want to advise your former supervisor, even if you do not regularly use him or her as a reference, about the potential for a reference check and explain what the company is looking for.


My company is letting me go. What do I do about references from this employer?

As you probably already know, if you ask prospective employers not to contact your former employer, you raise a red flag. A company considering hiring you will probably call your boss anyway, since they don’t actually need your permission to call. It is not illegal for an employer to give out truthful information or opinions about your work. Do not assume that your employer is prohibited by law from giving more than “name, rank and serial number.”

So, before you completely cut your ties with your employer, find out what your company would say about you to prospective employers. Then try discussing what information you do or do not want released. You may also try writing a generic “to whom it may concern” reference letter about yourself and then asking your employer or supervisor to sign it or use part of it in their own letter.

Be prepared to push for a good letter and also be prepared to discuss changes in the exact wording of the letter. A positive letter of reference can go a long way toward improving your employment future. In a unionized workplace, if an employer declines to assure you a positive reference, consult your union to explore the possibility of filing a grievance.


Do I have any legal claim against the employer for making bad statements about me after I am let go?

It depends if the statements are untrue. A person is defamed when one person communicates a lie or makes a false accusation about another person, either orally or in writing, to a third person, which cause damages to the person’s reputation.

A company – in order to carry on its business efficiently – is entitled to what is known as a “qualified privilege” to make statements about its employees regarding discipline, termination, and references. It is not enough that your employer made a false statement about you. The person making the statements must have acted maliciously or known the statement was false or was reckless in determine whether the statement was true or not.

If your employer gives an unfavorable opinion about your work to another person, you do not have a claim for defamation unless your employer states that the unfavorable opinion was based on a fact which is not true and which damages your reputation. Opinions generally cannot be the basis for a claim of defamation

If you suspect that your former employer is giving out a bad reference, have a friend call and ask for information about you. Your friend may be able to confirm your suspicions.


What are some examples of reference letters?

Here are two examples of reference letters which may be helpful. The first is a modest referral, where you and your employer agree that your employer will not say negative things, but will not overly praise your work either. The second example is an example of the ideal reference, where your employer will agree to say positive things about your work history.


Example 1: Modest Referral

(Company Letterhead)

To: [Either fill in the company name here or make letter “to whom it may concern’]

Re: Willanda Employee

Ms. Employee worked for our company for over ten years. Recently, we have had to cut back our workforce due to economic conditions. Unfortunately, Ms. Employee lost her position with our company as a result of the restructuring. Ms. Employee is knowledgeable of payroll and accounting functions and has proven computer skills. She is also punctual and courteous.

While our company policy precludes us from giving recommendations for employees, Ms. Employee has been given permission to attach her most recent performance evaluations to this letter. Additionally, you may, if you wish, contact her most recent supervisor, Thomas Thomas, for more information about her work at our company.

Sincerely,

[the highest level company official obtainable]


Example 2: Ideal Reference

(Company Letterhead)

To: [Either fill in the company name here or make letter “to whom it may concern’]

Re: Willanda Employee

Ms. Willanda Employee was employed by our company for over ten years. Due to economic conditions, our company has had to reduce its workforce. One unfortunate result of this downsizing is the loss of Ms. Employee’s services.

Ms. Employee has consistently been an outstanding performer in our payroll and accounting department. She has in-depth knowledge of accounting principles and an admirable attention to detail. She has had significant experience with the following computer applications: [list here]. She is a creative problem solver and has “saved” the payroll for us on a number of occasions.

Ms. Employee is a punctual, courteous and conscientious worker. If you have any questions, please contact her most recent supervisor, Thomas Thomas. Her outstanding performance evaluations are attached to this letter.

Our company made the decision to outsource our accounting and payroll functions, resulting in the loss of Ms. Employee’s position. We will miss her professional demeanor and teamwork.

Sincerely,

[the highest level company official obtainable]


Does my employer have a duty to give a positive reference

Many states have laws protecting employers who give a negative reference of a former employee. However, many employment law attorneys still advise employers against giving a negative reference and instead, encourage giving a neutral reference. These attorneys argue that giving a negative reference does not benefit either party: the employer may continue to pay unemployment benefits and the employee will be upset at the negative review and have nothing but free time to determine if they have legal action against the employer. However, employers must evaluate the circumstances on a case-by-case basis. If the employee was fired due to serious misconduct, the former employer may face liability for failure to disclose the alleged misconduct. Employers should refer to the state law regarding references and/or consult with counsel before providing an honest yet negative reference.


What can I do to help improve my references?

Your employment references need to grasp the importance of their role in your job search and need to be prepared to respond to your potential employer’s outreach. The more thoughtful, prepared, and responsive your reference, the better the reference will be. As a former employee, it is beneficial to keep in touch with your potential references and update them on what you’ve been up to recently. Ensure that your references are okay with providing their name and email to any of your potential employers. Having a variety of references is also beneficial.

Coping With Job Loss


How do I cope with job loss?

The impact of termination goes well beyond shaking a family’s financial security. Job loss ranks with death and divorce as one of life’s most stressful events. Strong negative emotions–anger, inadequacy, humiliation, anxiety, depression, and a host of other feelings — are not uncommon and are fully understandable following the loss of a job. Nevertheless, negative emotions are not conducive to moving forward. If you start taking them along in your personal relationships and job interviews, they can be destructive.

Job loss is also a very personal experience which people handle in very individual ways. Maintaining a positive outlook may not come easily to everyone, and may require serious effort on your part. A sincere effort to follow some of the suggestions offered in this chapter, however, should be beneficial.


Let your support system be supportive

Trusted family members and friends will want to be helpful. Let them! This is not the time to push people away. Resist the temptation to close others off because you don’t want to be a burden or a bore. You are still the same person with the same good traits you had before you lost your job. It is important for you and those closest to you to understand that you need time to cope and recover. Don’t think you have to “go it alone” or “tough it out.” It is when you shut others out that the pressures and frustrations take their greatest toll.

When “coping” doesn’t alleviate feelings of grief, fear, or anger, enlist the help of family members, friends, neighbors and/or others who share your problem to establish support groups and to network. Asking for help is hard, but it is not admitting defeat; on the contrary, it is an indication of your intention to take control of your life.


Stay Active

Do not remain idle while you are between jobs. Inactivity aggravates negative thoughts and feelings. Institute a routine and try to stick with it.

Mental health experts agree we feel better when we are busy, especially when our thoughts are directed outside ourselves. Many people, whether or not they are employed, derive great satisfaction from performing volunteer work. For people who are out of work, volunteering has the added benefit of helping them maintain or enhance their job-related skills and may create an opportunity to learn new skills and develop new interests. Another plus is that working in a new setting and meeting new people can broaden their network.

This is also a good time to tackle projects around the house and catch up on reading. But don’t let these activities distract you from getting out and doing what it takes to get a new job!


Allocate your resources carefully

The loss of a steady paycheck can have a devastating financial impact, even in a two-income family. Develop a budget with your family, letting each member put forward their priorities. Work out a schedule of payments with your creditors, and avoid accumulating new debt as much as you possibly can. If necessary, seek help from your local consumer credit counseling organization.


Keep fit and healthy

Nutrition. Nutritionists tell us that stress lowers the level of serotonin, a natural mood lifter, in the brain and that eating carbohydrates ups the serotonin level, making people feel more relaxed. Some experts also suggest that eating balanced, smaller, more frequent meals helps calm a jittery stomach. Since the body has a strong need for nourishment during stress periods, it is wise to avoid processed foods and refined sugars and eat whole foods such as fruits and vegetables instead.

Experts say that a poor diet can leave you more vulnerable to the negative aspects of stress and more susceptible to illness.

Exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the effects of stress. It is also a good way to improve your overall physical and mental health. Research has identified several physical changes accompanying physical exercise. These positive changes include improved functioning of heart and lungs, better muscle tone, increased energy, weight control and improved sleeping patterns.

Regular, vigorous, physical exercise is perhaps the most natural, as well as the most beneficial, method of dealing with stress and tension. A well-conditioned body is best suited to handle stress. Exercise gives the body a chance to use the hormones that stressful situations pump into the bloodstream. It also prepares the body to handle more stress by increasing strength and endurance; reducing aches, pain and stiffness; lowering blood pressure; and increasing cardiac output by using up adrenalin which may be tensing muscles.


Steer clear of drugs and alcohol

Sometimes people who feel overwhelmed by job loss seek relief in drugs and alcohol. These substances only mask stress symptoms. They do not help you adjust to the stress itself. Turning to them can cause more stress in the long run than it relieves. Prescription medications such as sedatives or antidepressants are sometimes helpful in balancing a person’s response to stress, but must be taken only under a doctor’s direction and supervision.


Rest and sleep

Stress often produces insomnia or fitful sleep. Some techniques people can use to put themselves to sleep include progressive relaxation (sequentially tensing and fully releasing the muscles from head to foot), deep breathing (slowly inhaling and exhaling to a count of 10), and visualization (picturing a peaceful landscape or other pleasant vista).


Join a support group

People who share your situation may be better prepared to listen and respond to your concerns than even the most well-meaning friends or relatives. With a group of people who understand what you are going through, you can let off steam, get feedback on your activities and give others the benefit of your wisdom. Many communities have support groups for job seekers that exchange tips and valuable information on the job market. You can usually find a support group by contacting your YMCA, YWCA or library. Sometimes employment agencies can lead you to a group that matches your needs.


Keep a journal

Some people find that writing things down provides a useful outlet and also helps them think through their problems. If you are planning to appeal your termination or take legal action, it is essential to make notes of the events as they occur, before your memory fades.

Anger needs an outlet. When you are angry at someone or something and cannot express it in person, vent your anger by writing down what angers you. Don’t analyze or organize the information, just let it pour out onto the paper. After you are done, take the pages and crumple them up, stomp on them, rip them up and dump them (where they won’t be found). According to Helen Lerner, the author of Stress Breakers, “These symbolic actions, combined with the physical energy spent doing this, maximizes the emotional release.”


Seek professional counseling

Maintaining your emotional well being is as important during this time as securing your financial future. If — after trying these coping mechanisms — you still find yourself frequently depressed, dwelling on the past, harboring thoughts of revenge, drinking excessively, or resorting to drugs to mask your feelings, you may want to ask a professional psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker for help.

Asking for professional help is not a sign of weakness, nor does it indicate a lack of self sufficiency. A well-trained professional can usually provide great relief while helping you to deal with your feelings and focus on the future. Your family doctor or minister can help you locate someone, as can organizations such as your local family service agency, mental health association, Jewish social services, or Catholic Charities. These and many other agencies that can offer assistance are listed in the Yellow Pages.

Get the counseling while your health insurance coverage remains in effect. If your insurance does not cover mental health treatment or if the coverage is inadequate, ask the agencies you talk to whether their fees are based on a sliding scale determined by income. Check to see if there is an employer-sponsored confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which covers you.


Make time to have a good time

Don’t overlook the value of good times either on your own or with others. Even if you think you’re not in the mood, you’ll probably have a good time once you are out doing something you enjoy. In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins wrote, “It has always seemed to me that hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.” Experts say that daily laughter makes you feel happier, healthier, more self-confident, and relaxed.

Sample References


Example 1: Modest Referral

(Company Letterhead)

To: [Either fill in the company name here or make letter “to whom it may concern’]

Re: Willanda Employee

Ms. Employee worked for our company for over ten years. Recently, we have had to cut back our workforce due to economic conditions. Unfortunately, Ms. Employee lost her position with our company as a result of the restructuring. Ms. Employee is knowledgeable of payroll and accounting functions and has proven computer skills. She is also punctual and courteous.

While our company policy precludes us from giving recommendations for employees, Ms. Employee has been given permission to attach her most recent performance evaluations to this letter. Additionally, you may, if you wish, contact her most recent supervisor, Thomas Thomas, for more information about her work at our company.

Sincerely,

[the highest level company official obtainable]


Example 2: Ideal Reference

(Company Letterhead)

To: [Either fill in the company name here or make letter “to whom it may concern’]

Re: Willanda Employee

Ms. Willanda Employee was employed by our company for over ten years. Due to economic conditions, our company has had to reduce its workforce. One unfortunate result of this downsizing is the loss of Ms. Employee’s services.

Ms. Employee has consistently been an outstanding performer in our payroll and accounting department. She has in-depth knowledge of accounting principles and an admirable attention to detail. She has had significant experience with the following computer applications: [list here]. She is a creative problem solver and has “saved” the payroll for us on a number of occasions.

Ms. Employee is a punctual, courteous and conscientious worker. If you have any questions, please contact her most recent supervisor, Thomas Thomas. Her outstanding performance evaluations are attached to this letter.

Our company made the decision to outsource our accounting and payroll functions, resulting in the loss of Ms. Employee’s position. We will miss her professional demeanor and teamwork.

Sincerely,

[the highest level company official obtainable]

Federal Employees – Discipline and Removal


I am a federal employee and my Agency has suspended me or removed me from my position. Do I have a different process to follow than other employees?

Yes. When a non-probationary federal employee is subject to a suspension of over 14 days or a removal, the employee usually has appeal rights to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). If you believe that you have been subjected to retaliation for whistleblowing, you also have appeal rights to the MSPB.


How do I file an appeal with the MSPB?

After you receive a final decision suspending or removing you from your federal employment, you have 30 days to file an appeal with the MSPB. You can submit an appeal online at https://e-appeal.mspb.gov/. The MSPB is very strict about the 30-day time deadline.

You, called the Appellant in the process, should complete all responses to the questions on the appeal form, explaining what actions you are appealing and any affirmative defenses, such as Prohibited Personnel Practices, discrimination, or retaliation. It is very important that you raise any affirmative defenses such as discrimination or retaliation in your MSPB appeal. You should also include a copy of the proposed action, your detailed response to the proposed action (which should have been submitted to the Agency before the final decision), and the final decision. You must request a hearing on the appeal form to receive a hearing before an MSPB Administrative Judge (AJ).


What happens after I file my MSPB appeal?

After filing the appeal, an MSPB AJ will either issue an Order to Show Cause or an Acknowledgment Order. An Order to Show Cause requires you as the Appellant to submit information regarding why the MSPB has jurisdiction (legal authority) over the claim and/or why the claim is timely. If you receive this order, you should submit documentation of jurisdiction and timeliness, through sworn testimony and documents, including copies of postmarked envelopes, an affidavit (a sworn statement in writing) that you received the decision, and other information relevant to your case.

The Acknowledgment Order contains very important deadlines which must be met. One of these deadlines is likely the submission of an Agency file by the Agency representative. The Agency file will contain its explanation of why the Agency believes your case lacks merit and will also contain documents and statements from management. The Agency file, along with your Appellant’s appeal, are likely the only documents the AJ will have regarding the case, until hearing. Thus, it is important that your appeal is clear and concise, and anticipates the Agency’s response.


How long will it take to process my case?

Processing in MSPB cases is very quick. Most cases are resolved within 180 days of filing, in comparison to the EEO process in discrimination and retaliation cases, which can take years.


Will discovery be allowed?

Yes. In the Acknowledgment Order, the AJ will give the parties the opportunity to conduct discovery, in order for each side to obtain relevant information from the other to aid the preparation of each party’s case. The discovery process includes asking the opposing party for additional information through written questions, written requests for production of documents, written requests for admissions, and depositions.

Depositions usually take place at counsel’s office in the presence of a court reporter. Depositions consist of the lawyer asking the witness questions about the case. Transcripts from depositions can be used at a hearing to show a witness’s inconsistent testimony or, in certain situations, in lieu of in-person testimony by that witness. It is very important that you prepare for your deposition adequately, by reviewing the record and making sure all your answers are consistent.

In general, discovery is a very important process because it allows the parties to gain more information to assess their case and to hopefully support their arguments. Based on discovery, the parties can often better assess whether their case meets the legal burdens it will need to meet to be successful at hearing.


What happens once discovery ends?

After the discovery period ends, the parties prepare for the hearing, a session with the administrative judge where both sides present evidence. The parties may also make additional attempts at resolving the case, based on what was uncovered in discovery and their resulting assessment of the case. The AJ may pressure the parties to resolve the case and discuss the merits of settlement with one party or both. The pre-hearing period may consist of motions to decide the case without a hearing (usually brought by the Agency), pre-hearing submissions (listing witnesses, expected testimony, issues to be tried, and exhibits), a pre-hearing conference with the opposing party and the judge, and perhaps a settlement conference or ADR session.


What happens at the MSPB hearing?

In an MSPB hearing, both parties are given the opportunity to do short opening statements (often 5 to 10 minutes). In an MSPB hearing regarding an adverse action, the Agency presents its case first. Hearsay is allowed in administrative proceedings, at the judge’s discretion. The Agency will likely put forth the testimony of the Proposing Official, the Deciding Official, and perhaps an Employee Relations advisor. You will have the opportunity to cross-examine the Agency’s witnesses, as the Agency will likely do with you and your witnesses.

After all the Agency witnesses testify, you may present your witnesses. Your witnesses should probably include:

 you, as the Appellant,

 co-workers supporting your version of facts regarding the incidents at issue in the disciplinary decision, and

 doctors and/or family members.

If you allege discrimination as an affirmative defense (the reason why the Agency disciplined or removed you), you need to address this in your testimony and present witnesses who support your contention that the Agency discriminated or retaliated against you. (For more information, please see the next question.)

After both sides have been given an opportunity to present testimony, the Agency may receive an opportunity to rebut the testimony of you and your witnesses. Both parties may use physical documents or things at the hearing, as long as the parties comply with the AJ’s rules in notifying the AJ of the evidence and getting the AJ’s approval. Each party is given a short time period for oral closing arguments. Instead of closing arguments, the AJ can allow the parties to submit written briefs.


What if I am being removed or disciplined for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons?

When you allege an affirmative defense of discrimination or retaliation as the reason why the Agency took adverse action (such as discipline or removal) against you, the MSPB processes this case as a “mixed case.”

For example, sometimes an employee has an EEO complaint pending when an adverse action occurs. In that situation, you have one of two options:

 You can either amend your EEO complaint to include the adverse action by seeking EEO counseling on the adverse action, or

 You can file an appeal with the MSPB and allege discrimination or retaliation as an affirmative defense, including the applicable EEO allegations in the MSPB hearing.

Even if you do not have an EEO complaint pending when the adverse action is taken, you can still go to EEO to initiate EEO counseling regarding the discriminatory or retaliatory adverse action. The normal EEO process will follow until the Report of Investigation (ROI) is completed. After the ROI is completed, instead of being offered an EEO hearing, the Agency should forward the case to the MSPB because the MSPB is the only entity which has jurisdiction over adverse actions. The MSPB will hear both the adverse action claim and the discrimination and/or retaliation claim.

The employee’s other option, upon receiving an adverse action, is to proceed directly to the MSPB, as discussed above, and allege discrimination or retaliation as an affirmative defense, if applicable. After a mixed case is before an AJ, the AJ processes the mixed case just like a regular non-mixed case. However, the AJ should apply both the laws regarding discrimination and retaliation and adverse action law in coming to his or her decision.


What happens after the hearing is over?

In either a mixed case or a non-mixed case, after hearing, the AJ will issue an Initial Decision, which will become final within 35 days of its issuance unless either party appeals it before the expiration of the 35-day time period, as specified in the decision. To appeal a mixed case, you petition the EEOC to consider the Board’s decision as to the discrimination or retaliation and submit a statement of reasons with the Petition For Review (PFR). To appeal a non-mixed case, either party may file a PFR with the Board. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) can also file a PFR with the Board.


Can I file a lawsuit if I am not happy with the MSPB's resolution of my case?

If an MSPB “mixed case” contains allegations of employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, or EEO retaliation, you may file a lawsuit in federal district court for the discrimination case. This lawsuit will be “de novo.” “De novo” means that the discrimination claim starts anew and although the evidence developed in the agency EEO investigation or at the MSPB can be used, any decision by the agency or the MSPB is not binding on the federal district court. In addition, the employee may engage in full discovery in federal court no matter how much discovery was done before filing the lawsuit. The employee has the right to a jury trial.

In general, for MSPB appeals not based on discrimination, the employee may file an appeal or request review in the federal Court of Appeals. The appellate courts have jurisdiction over specific types of federal cases, including a review of final MSPB decisions. The federal appellate courts do not review the agency adverse action against the employee to determine whether the adverse action was legitimate or not. The circuit court reviews the MSPB’s final decision to determine whether it conforms to applicable law and MSPB precedent. There is no jury trial in the federal Court of Appeals.

Please note that for employees of the Department of Homeland Security, new and different rules (since 2005) for MSPB appeals and requests for review from the circuit courts will affect your rights in the MSPB appeal process.


Should I get a lawyer?

Yes. The MSPB process is very technical and the MSPB administrative law judges follow strict rules that are not the same as state or federal courts or the EEOC. Experienced attorneys have reviewed and represented federal employees in hundreds of cases. Hopefully, you are going through the MSPB process only once in your life. Representing yourself or evaluating your case without an experienced attorney almost guarantees that mistakes will be made and the experienced agency representatives will take advantage of your inexperience in the MSPB process. You should have an experienced attorney review the facts of your case and give you an opinion of the merits of your appeal or EEO claims, so that you can make an informed decision on whether to pursue and MSPB appeal, court trial, or federal appellate court review.

Most lawyers specializing in federal employee cases charge an hourly fee. However, if the evidence in the opinion of the lawyer shows that your case is clearly a winner in the MSPB appeal, that lawyer may consider a contingent fee arrangement under which you will not pay attorney’s fees unless you prevail or settle the matter. Attorney’s fees and costs are usually awarded to a prevailing employee in the MSPB appeal process. Thus, if you prevail in your MSPB appeal, you will receive a reimbursement of some or all of the fees and costs you paid to pursue your MSPB appeal.


What are the remedies available to me?

If you prevail in an MSPB appeal, the MSPB administrative law judge may award a full range of remedies to make you “whole” so that you are at least in the same situation as before the adverse action was taken. Remedies may include reinstatement, promotion, change in grade or pay, back pay and front pay, reimbursement of lost benefits, elimination of adverse actions and purging of adverse records, compensatory damages for emotional distress, attorney’s fees and costs, and appropriate administrative actions. Punitive damages are not permitted against the federal government. MSPB remedies do not include adverse or disciplinary actions against managers who made the decisions found to be unlawful by the MSPB. For more information about the various types of damages available, see our site’s damages page.


Where can I learn more?

Getting legal advice as early as possible when you believe you have been discriminated against or retaliated against is highly recommended. A legal consultation with an attorney experienced in federal employee claims will evaluate your facts under current laws and court decisions and give you the pros and cons of your case. There are many factors that go into a case evaluation. You may be going through this EEO process once or twice in your career, whereas the agency personnel and EEO representatives do this every day. If you are not informed about how the process works and what evidence is needed, the agency and management may create a record to defend against your case and you may not understand how to find and present evidence in your favor.

Getting a consultation does not mean that the attorney must represent you throughout the process or in federal court. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your case as early as possible can save you money and effort. It can assist you in documenting and finding the evidence you need to win your EEO case or help you decide to withdraw your EEO case. Finally, if you win your case before the EEOC, Administrative Judge, or in federal court, your attorney’s fees will be paid by the agency. In most settlements, your fees are also paid by the agency. Many attorneys will represent federal employees on a contingent fee basis if there are sufficient facts to support your EEO claims.

Want to learn more about your rights as a federal employee? Order the Federal Employees Legal Survival Guide, published by Passman and Kaplan and Workplace Fairness.

Personnel Files


What is considered part of my personnel file?

Personnel files are the documents that employers collect with information about their employees, which may include hiring or firing information, salary information, letters to clients, and internal memoranda. When employers conduct evaluations and take disciplinary actions, this information is typically added to your personnel file. Personnel files are the employer’s record of your employment, and can negatively as well as positively affect you and your future employment.


Do I have the right to access my personnel files?

It depends. Personnel files are considered the property of the company, and federal law does not guarantee a right to access your personnel file. However, some states have laws relating to personnel files laws that grant or deny an employee access to his or her own personnel files. In addition, some employers have their own policies in regards to employee personnel file access. The employer’s policy may be found in the employee handbook, or you could ask the HR department about the company’s policy. For more information, please see our NJ page. [link and page to follow]


Can I have copies of my personnel files?

It depends. Employers may only allow you to view your documents and they may not allow you to make copies. If they do allow you to make copies, you may have to do it by your own means, meaning that you may have to provide your own paper and pay for the copies being made. Another common policy is that a company representative be present while you’re reviewing the files to make sure that all of the documents remain in the file.


What should I do when I check my files?

When you are able to view your files, if you are not allowed to make copies, then you should take notes of the documents that are in your file. The notes should include the name or description of the document, the date it was created (if indicated), and the author.


What if there is something that I do not agree with?

If you happen to find something in your files that you believe is untrue or you disagree with, try to follow up with the appropriate person and make a rebuttal in the file. You should also take notes on the negative information, just in case it is an issue in the future. However, if you are currently involved in a lawsuit against your employer, or think that you might be bringing one in the future, you should consult with an attorney to determine the best strategy to review and respond to negative information in your personnel file.


Can I remove something from my file that belongs to me?

Never take documents or papers that don’t belong to you. Never even attempt to access information, either on computer or in company files, that you have no right to know. Anything that is personal to you, such as letters of praise or thanks that were sent to you, can be removed, but do so cautiously, as it may be better to copy it than remove it from your file. Anything related to the company or the operation of the company and its business, however, should not be taken without permission.While it may be tempting to take confidential company records or access computer files without authorization, this is a big mistake for a number of reasons. First of all, it may be illegal and you might end up facing criminal charges or civil claims as well as trying to fight your termination. Second, it may give the company an excuse to fire you where none existed before. Even if you can prove that you were illegally fired, your employer can use your misconduct to severely limit your ability to recover money or obtain re-employment in a lawsuit. Finally, if you signed a so-called “confidentiality agreement” at the time you were hired, taking confidential documents could subject you to civil action for breach of contract.

Personnel Files – State Law


Alaska

In the state of Alaska, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees and former employees are allowed to view and copy personnel files and employees may view records during regular business hours under reasonable rules. If the employer requests, then the employee pays for copies of the records.


California

In the state of California, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees have the right to inspect their files at reasonable intervals and check any personnel records relating to performance or to a grievance proceeding. Employees may view records during break or non-work hours. If the records are kept off site or the employer does not make them available at the workplace, the employee must be allowed to view them at the storage location without loss of pay. Employees have the right to copy any documents that employees have signed.


Connecticut

In the state of Connecticut, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees have the right to inspect files within a reasonable time after making a request, but not more than twice a year. A written request to check files is required. Employers must keep files of former employees for at least one year after termination. Employees may view records during regular business hours in a location at or near the worksite. Employers may require that files be viewed in the presence of employer’s designated official. Employers must provide copies within a reasonable time after receiving an employee’s written request. Request must identify the materials that the employee wants to copy. Employer may charge a fee that is based on the cost of supplying documents. If an employee disagrees with the information in the files, and cannot reach an agreement with employers to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The rebuttal must be maintained as part of the file.


Delaware

In the state of Delaware, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees that are current, laid off, with reemployment rights, or on leave of absence may inspect personnel records. An employee’s agent is not entitled to have access to records, unless there is reasonable cause. Employer may limit access to once a year. A written request is only required at employer’s discretion. Records may be viewed during employer’s regular business hours. Employer may require that employees view files on their own time and may also require that files be viewed on the premises and in the presence of a designated official. Employers are not required to allow employees to copy records, however, employees may take notes. If employees disagree with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The rebuttal must be maintained as part of the file.


Iowa

In the state of Iowa, all employers with salaried employees or commissioned salespeople are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees may have access to personnel files at a time agreed upon between employers and employees. An employer’s representative may be present. Employers may charge a copying fee for each page that is relevant to a commercial copying service fee.


Maine

In the state of Maine, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees can access records ten days within submitting a request. These include employees, former employees or authorized representatives, who all can view and copy personnel files. Employees may view records during normal business hours at the location where the files are kept, unless the employer, at its own discretion, arranges a time and place more convenient for the employee. If files are in electronic or any other non-print format, the employer must provide equipment for viewing and copying. Employees are entitled to one free copy of files during each calendar year, including any materials added to the file during that year. Employee must pay for any additional copies.


Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, all employers with twenty or more employees must maintain personnel records for three years after termination. Employees or former employees must have the opportunity to review personnel files within five business days of submitting a request. The law does not apply to tenured or tenure-track employees in private colleges and universities. Employees may view their records at the workplace during normal business hours and they must be given a copy of their records within five business days of submitting a written request. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. Rebuttals become part of the file.


Michigan

In the state of Michigan, employers with four or more employees are subject to the state personnel file law. Current or former employees are entitled to review personnel records at reasonable intervals, generally not more than twice a year, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise. Employees must describe the record(s) they request to review. They may view these records during normal office hours either at or reasonably near the worksite. If these hours would require employees to take time off of work, the employer must provide another reasonable time for review. Employees can copy files and employers may charge only actual cost of duplication. If the employee is unable to view files at the worksite, the employer, upon receipt of a written request, must mail a copy to the employee. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement explaining his or her position. It may not be any longer that 5 8.5” x 11” pages.


Minnesota

In the state of Minnesota, all employers that have twenty or more employees are subject to the state personnel file law. Current employees may review files once every six months; former employees may have access to records once only during the first year after termination. Employers must comply with an employee’s written request within seven working days (fourteen working days if personnel records kept out of state.) Employer may not retaliate against employees who assert their rights under these laws. Current employees may view the records during normal office hours either at or reasonably near the worksite. Viewing of the files does not have to take place during employee’s working hours. Employers or representatives may be present, but it is not required. Employers must provide copies free of charge. Current employees must first review the records and then submit a written request for copies. Former employees must submit written request. Providing former employers with a copy fulfills the employer’s obligation to allow access to records. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement identifying the disputed information and explaining his or her position. This statement may be no longer than 5 pages and must be kept with records as long as it is maintained.


Nevada

In the state of Nevada, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Any employee who has worked at least 60 days and a former employee, within 60 days of termination, must be given a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records. Employees may view records during employer’s normal business hours. Employers may charge only actual cost of providing access and copies. Employees may submit a reasonable written explanation in direct response to any entry in personnel record. These statements must be of reasonable length and employer may specify the format. Employers must also maintain the statement in personnel records.


New Hampshire

In the state of New Hampshire, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employers must provide employees a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records and may charge a fee reasonably related to cost of supplying copies. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement along with supporting evidence. These statements must be maintained as part of personnel file.


Oregon

In the state of Oregon, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Within 45 days after receipt of a request, employers must provide employees with a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records used to determine qualifications for employment, promotion, or additional compensation, termination, or other disciplinary action. Employers must keep records for 60 days after termination of employee. Employees may review records at the work place or places of work assignment. Employers must provide employees, within 45 days after receipt of request, a certified copy of requested record to current employees. Former employees, if request is made within 60 days of termination, can have certified copies of requested records.

If an employee makes a request 60 days after termination, employers should provide a certified copy of requested records, if employer has the records at the time of request. The employer may charge the amount reasonably calculated to recover actual cost of providing copy.


Pennsylvania

In the state of Pennsylvania, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law.

The employer must allow the employee to inspect personnel records at reasonable times. An employee’s agent, or employee who is laid off with reemployment rights or on leave of absence, must also be given access. Unless there is reasonable cause, employers may limit the review to once a year by the employee and once a year by employee’s agent. A written request is required at the employer’s discretion and the records may be viewed during regular business hours at the office where the records are kept. Employers are not obligated to permit copying; the employee may take notes, however. The Bureau of Labor Standards may allow employees to place a counter statement into the file, after a petition hearing.


Rhode Island

In the state of Rhode Island, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees need to give employers a seven-day advance notice to access records, excluding weekends and holidays. Employers may limit access to no more than three times a year. Employees can view the records at any reasonable time, other than employee’s work hours. This inspection should take place in the presence of the employer or the employer’s representative. The employee may not make copies or remove any files from place of inspection and the employer may charge a fee reasonably related to supplying copies.


Washington

In the state of Washington, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees may have access to personnel files at least once within a reasonable time after making a request. Employees may also petition annually that the employer review all of the information in the employee’s personnel file and remove any irrelevant or incorrect information.


Wisconsin

In the state of Wisconsin, all employers who maintain personnel records are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees or former employees must have the opportunity to review personnel files within seven business days of submitting a request. Access will be permitted twice per calendar year, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise. The employer has discretion to require a written request. Current employees may view the records during normal office hours, either at the worksite or reasonably near the worksite. An employee’s right of inspection includes the right to make or receive copies. If the employer provides copies, they may charge only actual cost of reproduction. In the event that the employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement.

General Information About Unemployment Insurance


How do I apply for UI benefits?

Each state has its own system for accepting applications. While most states only allow you to apply by telephone or online, some also permit you to apply through the mail. In-person applications have been largely eliminated. Because each state’s application process varies, it is important that you visit your state’s homepage for the most up-to-date requirements.

Visit our page on Filing an Unemployment Claim in Your State for more information about how you can file. In a unionized setting, your union may have an unemployment compensation representative or committee that can help you understand the unemployment system in your state.


What information do I need to provide when completing my unemployment compensation application?

You will be required to provide certain types of information as part of the application process. Such information may include:

 social security number

 driver’s license or motor vehicle ID card number

 complete mailing address, including city, state, zip code, and telephone number

 alien registration card (if applicable)

 the name, address, and phone number of every employer you’ve worked for in the past 18 months, whether full-time, part-time, temporary, or for cash.

 Recent earnings statements, severance pay, vacation and holiday pay, and the date it was paid to you.

While you may be able to file a claim for benefits without all of these documents, missing information can delay your first payment.

During the application process, you will be asked a series of questions concerning why you left your previous employment. When explaining why you are no longer employed, you should be as clear and concise as possible. For example, state that you misunderstood directions, if you did. If you made a mistake, say so. Inform the office if you tried to avoid the mistake or rule infraction cited by your employer, and how you (or your union) tried to address the situation. Make sure that you inform the unemployment office if you deny the reasons set out by your former employer for your termination.

You may also be asked more detailed questions about how you became unemployed by a representative of the unemployment insurance system. It is important to be honest when you answer those questions. UI benefits are routinely audited by state government agencies to ensure proper accordance with federal law. If the government agency determines that you lied or made misrepresentations during your application for UI benefits, you may be penalized up to and including criminal penalties.


Should I apply for UI benefits right away after I lose my job?

Most states require that you apply for benefits immediately after you lose your job, as your eligibility begins the week in which you file your claim. Claims start on the Sunday of the week an Unemployment Insurance application is submitted; so begin sooner rather than later. Generally, if you delay in applying for UI benefits, you will not be allowed to receive benefits for the time prior to your application, even if you would have been eligible for benefits during that time.

In certain circumstances, however, you may want to wait to apply for UI benefits. Here are some of the reasons you might be better off waiting to apply for benefits:

 You are not financially eligible for UI because your base period earnings are not sufficient; or

 You are not eligible for UI because you are not ready, willing, and able to work.

For more information, see our site’s unemployment insurance eligibility page.


How soon may I start collecting benefits after I apply?

Under current law, all applicants for unemployment compensation must serve a “waiting week.” Since you cannot get benefits for the first week of unemployment that occurs after you file for benefits, you should apply as soon as possible after your job ends–even if you are not certain of your eligibility. Depending on how long you worked before losing your job, you can then collect benefits for up to 26 weeks (which may be further extended under certain circumstances under federal law).

Sometimes, but not always, an employer will contest a terminated employee’s eligibility for unemployment compensation. Whether you receive unemployment compensation depends on a number of factors.


I was fired without any warning. Does this mean I should apply for unemployment benefits?

Yes. You are entitled to compensation if you lost your employment through no fault of your own. However, the states use different standards in determining fault. In many states, the employer will have to prove that an employee was engaged in willful misconduct during his or her employment. If it is shown that the employee engaged in willful misconduct, he or she will be deemed ineligible to receive benefits. In other states, an employer needs to show only that it had “just cause” for terminating an employee.


What is the difference between the willful misconduct and the just cause standards?

Under the “willful misconduct” standard, an employee who is a poor performer and made many costly mistakes at work would still be entitled to benefits, since his inability to perform the job is not willful misconduct. Under the “just cause” standard, which looks at whether the employer had a good reason to terminate an employee, an employee’s substandard work and errors would provide the employer with cause to fire the employee. Whether your state uses a “just cause” standard or the more lenient “willful misconduct” standard may have a bearing on whether you receive unemployment.

A “faultless” termination would involve a company that has downsized and eliminated the employee’s position for economic reasons. In this scenario the employee did not do anything wrong, and there was no “just cause” for the termination. Although the employer may have had a valid business reason for its decision, the individual employee was not at fault and so is entitled to unemployment compensation.

Breaking company rules or violating company policy can constitute “willful misconduct” or just cause for termination. Doing personal business on company time, behaving rudely to a customer or client, or failure to show up for work without excuse can all be willful misconduct or just cause for termination.

Each case is different. Just because your employer cites some rule violation as the reason for your termination does not necessarily mean that you were fired for “cause” or misconduct, and that you won’t be entitled to unemployment compensation. You have nothing to lose by filing for unemployment benefits and letting the state decide whether to pay your claim or not. You also have appeal rights if the claim is denied, as discussed below.


What if my employer contests my unemployment claim?

If your employer believes it had good cause to terminate you, it may file a response stating why you should not get benefits. The unemployment office makes an initial determination, usually within a week or two, based on your application and the employer’s response. When your employer challenges your application for unemployment compensation, you should consult the laws of your state to learn the procedural deadlines and other requirements. If the unemployment office determines that you are not entitled to receive benefits, you can appeal that determination. A hearing will then be held, which can be months after the appeal is filed. A Referee will question the parties and witnesses to make a determination on the claimant’s right to benefits. If you show at the hearing that you were fired without good cause, you will be entitled to back benefits, but only for those weeks in which you filed an application for benefits.

You may choose to contact an attorney to represent you during the hearing. Before contacting a lawyer, you should consider the cost of retaining legal representation. If you do not expect to receive benefits surpassing lawyers’ fees, you may choose to represent yourself. However, unemployment hearings and appeals can be challenging. For this reason, legal representation can be important, especially if you believe that you were unlawfully terminated and are contemplating a lawsuit. An attorney will help you prepare in advance of the hearing and guide you through the proceeding. process. The hearing can provide a preview of the employer’s defenses to your claim. If you are denied benefits, the attorney can help begin the appeals process.

People often believe that when they are initially denied benefits, re-applying every week is useless or unnecessary. This is not true. If you plan to appeal the denial of benefits, you must continue to file requests or applications for benefits and meet all of the other requirements for obtaining benefits. Be sure to pay attention to the deadlines for filing appeals.

For more information, see our site’s appealing a denial page.


I quit my job. Does this mean I cannot collect unemployment benefits?

If you quit your job, you are not entitled to unemployment compensation unless you quit for a good cause. “Cause” here means some incident or situation that would lead a reasonable employee in that situation to quit. In most cases, the employer has created an environment that has made employment difficult, such as permanently reducing the employee from full-time to part-time or providing unsafe working conditions.

Ordinarily, you must give your employer the opportunity to correct the intolerable condition. Likewise, in a unionized setting, you can seek the assistance of your union in correcting the condition.

However, you should still apply for benefits, because the state may agree that you had good cause to quit. In any event, you have nothing to lose by applying.

For more information, see our site’s unemployment insurance eligibility page.


Once I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible to receive benefits?

Once you apply for benefits, you will need to periodically certify that you are ready, willing, and able to work in order to continue receiving benefits, and you may need to provide evidence of your job search. Most states allow for certification by telephone, mail, or Internet. Click on your state in the map at the bottom of this page for a link to certify for UI benefits online.

Most states require you to continue following the normal procedures for weekly or biweekly certifying for UI benefits, even if you are not receiving the benefits because the state agency has determined that you are ineligible. If you do not follow the certification process, you may win your appeal on eligibility but not be able to collect the benefits for the time you were challenging the determination.


Once I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to show I'm looking for a new job?

To prove that you are ready, willing, and able to work, you will usually be required to check in with a UI representative to confirm that you are actively looking for work. It is very important to keep track of all of your job search activities including submitting job applications, sending out resumes, and attending job interviews. States will use this information to verify that you have been looking for work. If you receive a job offer of “suitable employment,” you may become ineligible if you refuse the job. While each state’s definition varies, a job is typically considered “suitable” if it is similar to your previous job position, earnings, and requisite training.


I am a union member. How does that affect my unemployment claim?

Where you are subject to a collective bargaining agreement, it may be a good idea for you to pursue through your union a grievance relating to your discharge at the same time as you are pursuing an unemployment compensation claim. Consult your union and your collective bargaining agreement about the filing of a grievance. In a unionized workplace, reinstatement through the grievance-arbitration process may help to establish the absence of fault or just cause. However, while discharged union employees should certainly pursue this option, it may not determine your eligibility for unemployment insurance.


How can I make the best of the system?

 Know and follow the rules. To receive compensation, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements of the state in which you reside. This means taking care to follow all the proper procedures. Keep copies of all documents you give to the unemployment agency, and request copies of all other documents in your file.

 Fill out the application completely, and correctly.

 Be on time for all appointments. Waiting is better than being told to come back another day, or losing your benefits altogether.

 Look for work. At a minimum, you must make the number of applications required to maintain your eligibility for benefits. However, we encourage you to search diligently for work.

 Keep detailed records of your job search. Record the date, name of the company, how you applied (mail, telephone, or in person), the name of anyone at the company that you spoke with, and whether you received a response to your application.

 Promptly open and read all UI correspondence. Critical information about your rights is often buried in fine print in letters from your state labor agency. Read it closely because there are often short time limits to appeal denials or unfavorable determinations. Keep copies of all documents. You risk losing thousands of dollars in benefits by failing to read the information and abide by program requirements. Judges rarely forgive your failure to open and read your mail.

 Be available for work in your area during the benefit period stipulated in your state. For instance, if you take a week-long vacation, you will not be entitled to unemployment compensation for the week that you were out of the job market. By being out of your regular area of residence, you made yourself “unavailable” for work in your area.

 Be honest. Don’t claim benefits for a week that you are actually working or on vacation. Truthfully explain why you lost your job. If you are discovered to have lied to the unemployment agency, you may be required to repay benefits, you may lose eligibility for future benefits, and in limited cases you may be subject to criminal penalties.


Where can I find more information?

Visit our state specific pages on Filing an Unemployment Claim for important information on the process of filing for unemployment in your state.

Also, at the listing of state government agencies, you can find the contact information and web links for the agency in your state that oversees the unemployment compensation program in order to obtain further information about the laws in your state concerning unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Eligibility


I lost my job due to a natural disaster. Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits?

The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program is a federal program that provides unemployment benefits to those whose employment or self-employment is affected by a natural disaster. It is available to those who are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance. DUA is available only when the President has declared a “major disaster.” To receive DUA, you must be out of work as a direct result of the disaster, and you must not be eligible for traditional unemployment benefits.

Once the availability of DUA is announced (the same day or very soon after a major disaster has been declared) you must apply for benefits within 30 days.

The amount of benefits you receive under DUA is the same as what you would receive if you were eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. The maximum amount of time you can collect benefits is 26 weeks, or six months after the declaration of a “major disaster,” whichever comes first.

You may be eligible for DUA if you:

    Cannot reach your place of work; or

  • Cannot work because your workplace is damaged; or
  • No longer have a job as a direct result of the disaster; or
  • Cannot work because of disaster-incurred injury; or
  • Are head of household after previous head of household died as result of the disaster.

For more information about DUA see the following resources:
FEMA Disaster Assistance page 
Workplace Fairness State Agencies page for information about your state unemployment agency.
Department of Labor DUA information page 


I quit my job. Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

If you quit your job without good cause you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits in any state. Keep in mind that while there are many reasons why you may choose to leave your job, not all of these reasons are considered “good cause”. You may have “good cause” to quit if, when faced with the same situation, a reasonable employee would quit his or her job. In some cases, you may also encounter serious personal issues that require you to quit.

Examples of “good cause” for quitting, depending on your state may include:

 the employer’s refusal or failure to pay you earned wages,

 an unsafe working environment,

 repeated and severe verbal or physical harassment,

 a demand by your employer to engage in illegal conduct,

 caring for a family member, or

 lack of transportation to and from work.

Before you quit, you must tell your employer about any problems you are experiencing and give your employer an opportunity to correct them. You may also need to show that you took steps to fix the problem yourself. Where you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, you should consult with your union about whether refusing to work in these circumstances would be permitted under the labor agreement or law and whether your union can first assist you in correcting the situation.


I quit my job for personal reasons. Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

It depends. Examples of personal issues that constitute good cause for quitting, depending on your state, may include:

 taking care of a new baby,

 moving to a new city to follow a spouse, or

 your own health reasons.

However, remember that if you have good cause to quit, you also must be ready, willing, and able to take a new job to be able to collect benefits in a given week. Therefore, if the illness that caused you to quit makes you unable to work at all, you should not try to collect benefits until you are actually capable of working again. You may want to apply for benefits (though not start collecting them) before you lose your eligibility (usually 1 year after you stop working).


I quit because my job changed. Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

Certain changes in your job are not considered good cause for quitting. For example, simply being demoted, with a decrease in pay, is generally not considered cause for quitting. On the other hand, a demotion from manager to janitor, or a significant reduction in pay or hours, would probably be grounds for quitting, as would removing all of your responsibilities and giving you no real work to do.

If you quit your job, you risk being ineligible for UI benefits. However, you should still apply for UI benefits because the state may agree that you had good cause to quit, and you have nothing to lose by applying. Just be sure to tell the truth about why you quit.


I don't want to get a new job right away--I need a break. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

In order to collect unemployment benefits, you must be available to work. “Available to work” means that you are actively looking for work and nothing currently prevents you from accepting job offers. For example, if you are unable to work because you are sick, on vacation, or cannot work full-time without restrictions , you will not be entitled to unemployment compensation. Because you were unable to accept work, you have made yourself “unavailable” for work.


I'm unemployed because I could no longer physically do my job. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

To continue receiving benefits, you must be physically able to work. However, if you can perform light duty work and actively seek other work that you are qualified for, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. If you were unable to work due to an injury or illness, the state or your employer may require a doctor’s note before deeming you available to work.


Now that I am unemployed, I am going to move to another state. Am I still eligible for unemployment benefits?

If you relocate permanently to another state, you are generally still eligible for benefits if you are actively looking for suitable employment in that state. However, states interpret the requirements for unemployment eligibility differently. Before permanently relocating, you should contact the unemployment offices in both your current and future states of residence and/or an attorney to determine the effect that relocation will have on your eligibility.


If I turn down a job, does that mean I am ineligible for further unemployment benefits?

In order to receive unemployment compensation funds, you must not refuse an offer of a “suitable” job. Each state has their own definition of “suitable” so be sure to check your state’s individual unemployment laws. In most cases, aA suitable job is one that is reasonably equal , even though not identical, to the job you had before, even if it pays less and involves less responsibility. Whether the particular job is suitable depends on a number of factors such as the type of work, the pay, the distance from your home, and the shift you will be working.


My employer paid me off the books. Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

It’s your employer’s responsibility to pay UI taxes. States generally rely on employer’s reporting for calculating the amount of UI benefits you receive. If your employer fails to report your wages (and to pay the UI taxes), the state will likely find that you are not eligible for UI benefits. You can appeal this determination and use bank statements or even a sworn letter to show the state that you did in fact work and earn wages, and therefore should be eligible for benefits. If you are in this situation, you may want to contact a lawyer or Legal Aid office near you to get help in getting UI benefits.


I am paid as an independent contractor. Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

While it is true that independent contracts are ineligible for UI, many employees are incorrectly labeled independent contractors by their employers. An independent contractor is someone who is in business for him or herself. Many companies label short-term employees as contractors in order to avoid certain obligations to employees (including UI benefits).

If your employer controls how you perform your work and controls your schedule, you may really be an employee and therefore eligible for UI benefits. You must notify the state because they will likely not have record of your employment and therefore may find you ineligible for UI benefits. Your state labor department may have additional information on how to determine whether you are an independent contractor. For more information, see our site’s independent contractor page.


I have only been working part-time. Am I eligible to collect unemployment benefits?

You may be eligible for UI benefits even if you are working one or two days per week. If your employer reduced your schedule from full-time to part-time or if you worked full-time, lost your job, and then found a part-time job, you may be eligible for partial UI benefits. The rules vary from state to state.


When I left my job, I was given a severance package. Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

In some states, you may forfeit your right to unemployment benefits if you receive severance pay. If you have received severance pay from your employer, the severance is often considered income and may offset any unemployment compensation to which you are entitled. You will be ineligible for benefits for the number of weeks of severance you received.

If your employer pays you severance all at once in a “lump sum,” you may or may not be entitled to unemployment benefits. If the lump sum is just an up front payment of a number of weeks of your pay, the agency may treat the payment like salary continuation. A salary continuation is when you stay on the payroll for a certain number of weeks after you stop working for your company and it will usually make you ineligible for unemployment for as long as the employer continues to pay your salary.

You should apply for unemployment compensation even if you are receiving severance. You should begin the paperwork immediately. If your severance runs out before you find another position, you can simply send in a request for compensation and the original administrative steps that you took will speed up the process of payment.


I collect a pension from a prior job (not the one from which I was recently unemployed). Does that mean I am not eligible for UI benefits?

Rules vary from state to state. If you are actively ready, willing, and able to work, you may still be eligible for UI benefits. Often, the value of the pension will offset to some extent the amount of UI benefits you can receive. Of course, if you are truly retired and not looking for work, you are not eligible for UI.


I am a union employee who lost my job when my union went on strike. Am I eligible to apply for unemployment?

It depends. Many states disqualify employees whose unemployment results from any type of “labor dispute,” be it a strike or lockout. Some states distinguish between disqualifying “strikes” and “lockouts” that render employees eligible, while others allow striking workers to collect benefits after an initial period of disqualification. Also, some states permit workers who participated in a strike to receive unemployment benefits if the strike resulted from an employer violation of the law, or collective bargaining rights.

To find out what the rules are in your state, please see our site’s page on State Government Agencies, where you can find the contact information and web links for the agency in your state which oversees the unemployment compensation program in order to obtain further information about the laws in your state. In addition, unions often have a strike fund that provides emergency assistance to members who have lost wages during a strike. Payments from such funds may offset the amount of unemployment benefits you can receive.

Sometimes there is a dispute as to whether the activity in question is a strike or a lockout. You should consult with your union representatives to learn whether the union believes that the activity is a strike or a lockout and whether your union is advising members to apply for unemployment benefits. What appears to be a strike, or what you and your union call a strike, may be considered a lockout under unemployment compensation law. Don’t assume it is a strike. If you have any doubt, file for compensation.


Are federal employees eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Yes. States administer the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program to assist eligible unemployed federal civilian employees. The state where your last official duty station in federal civilian service was located provides the law which determines eligibility and other details of unemployment insurance benefits. This federal program mirrors the basic unemployment insurance provided for non-federal employees by states.


If my hours are reduced or I lose my job because my employer was adversely affected by foreign imports, can I receive any additional unemployment benefits?

You may be eligible for additional funds after your regular unemployment insurance benefits have expired, under the Trade Adjustment Act. Benefits could potentially include assistance for finding employment in a new area, training for a new job, or relocation to a geographic area where work is available. To receive these benefits, the Department of Labor must receive a Petition for Trade Adjustment Assistance- see your state unemployment insurance agency for information about this document. If this petition is approved, then you can file a claim with the US Department of Labor.


I was laid off, but want to start my own business instead of finding another job. Is there any government assistance available for self-employment?

Several states have a Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) Program that helps workers while they start their own business. Usually you must have been permanently laid-off from a job, eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, and determined by the state as likely to exhaust these regular unemployment insurance benefits. Participants are given a weekly allowance, and expected to work full-time while they are starting their business, with the amount being equivalent to traditional unemployment assistance.

The following states currently have Self-Employment Assistance programs: California, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.


I served in the U.S. military- am I eligible for any unemployment insurance benefits based on this service?

A program called Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service members provides unemployment benefits to individuals who are former members of the military. Also, those who worked for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps may be eligible. To receive these benefits, you must have been on active duty with a branch of the military, and separated under honorable conditions.


Where can I find more information?

For more information, please visit our site’s listing of state government agencies. There you will find the contact information and web links for the agency in your state which oversees the unemployment compensation program.

Unemployment Amount Calculation


How much will I receive in Unemployment Insurance benefits?

To determine what UI benefits you are eligible to receive, your state will typically review your prior wages and hours within a period of time known as a “base period”. In a regular base period, the first four calendar quarters of the last five you worked before your unemployment claim, determine your amount of compensation. Remember that a calendar year has 4 quarters. In other words, your eligibility is decided based on the first 12 out of the last 15 months you worked.

Not all states calculate benefit amounts the same, but the most common methods are:

a straight proportion of one’s total wages during the base period, or

a proportion of one’s total wages during the highest three-month period (“quarter”) in the base period.

Each state has a minimum and maximum weekly benefit–ranging from $5 in Hawaii to $722 in Massachusetts. It is important to review the history of your earnings in order to ensure that your benefit rate is accurate. For information on your state, click on your state in the map below.

Some states allow eligibility under an “alternate base period” (ABP), which includes more recent earnings than the regular base period. This is especially helpful for people who were not employed throughout the previous year and a half or who began earning more income at the end of their employment. As a result of the ABP, you may be found eligible when previously ineligible, or your benefit rate may increase significantly. Some states do not automatically evaluate eligibility under the ABP, so it is important to ask about it or to request evaluation under the ABP.


How many weeks of benefits and I eligible for?

States vary on this as well. Most states provide Unemployment Insurance for a maximum of 26 weeks. Currently only two states offer a higher maximum: Montana with 28 weeks, and Massachusetts with 30. There are a handful of states that provide less than 26 weeks. You should check with your state agency to determine the specific duration of your unemployment benefits.

Those who receive benefits while working part-time may be eligible for an equivalent amount of benefits spread out over a longer period of time (52 weeks at 50% of the weekly benefit rate).

The duration of benefits is for a single benefit year. At the end of the year, one may be eligible to receive benefits for a subsequent benefit year based on earnings that were not already used to qualify for benefits in the prior year.


When I left my job, I was given a severance package. Will this affect the amount of my UI benefits?

Depending on how your employer handles your severance pay, a severance package may or may not affect your UI benefits: the rules vary from state to state.

If you received severance pay from your employer, you must report the amount you have received. In some states, the severance is considered income and may offset any unemployment compensation to which you are entitled. Your employer may choose to pay severance as a “lump sum”, or gradually over time. If you are being paid severance over time, this may be considered a “salary continuation”. Salary continuation, when you stay on the payroll for a certain number of weeks after you stop working for the company, will usually make you ineligible for unemployment for as long as the employer continues to pay your salary.

If your employer pays you severance all at once in a lump sum, you may or may not be entitled to unemployment benefits. If the lump sum is just an upfront payment of a number of weeks of your pay, the agency may treat the payment like salary continuation. You will be ineligible for benefits for the number of weeks of severance you received.

Apply for unemployment compensation even if you are receiving severance and. begin the paperwork immediately. If your severance runs out before you find another position, you can simply send in a request for compensation and the original administrative steps that you took will speed up the process of payment.


I collect a pension from a prior job (not the one from which I was recently unemployed). Will this affect the amount of my UI benefits?

If you are actively ready, willing, and able to work, you may still be eligible for UI benefits. If you are receiving a pension because you are truly retired and not looking for work, you will be ineligible. Rules vary from state to state. Often, the value of the pension will offset to some extent the amount of UI benefits you can receive; in some cases, your benefits will be affected by the amount your employer contributed toward your pension.


What if I receive more benefits than I'm supposed to? Do I have to pay the state back?

Yes, without exception. If you have been overpaid UI benefits, you may receive a notice from your state agency alerting you to the overpayment. If you believe that your state agency is incorrect, you may request a waiver or appeal the decision. If your waiver or appeal is denied, or if you do not dispute the claim, you will have to begin repayment. In many cases, your future unemployment benefits will simply be lowered until the amount has been repaid. In other cases, they may attempt to collect from your tax return or use a debt collector.

If you intentionally provided inaccurate information to your state UI administrator or knowingly filed a false claim to receive more benefits, you have committed unemployment insurance fraud. In addition to having to repay your state agency, you may be subject to: penalties, criminal charges, ineligibility of UI benefits, and forfeiture of tax returns. All states actively monitor UI fraud.

To avoid these repercussions, provide truthful and accurate information to your state UI administrator at all times. If you feel that you have made a mistake on your forms or during the application process, call your state agency immediately.

Soon after you apply for benefits, you should receive a statement of your earnings. Review it closely and notify the state if it is incorrect; you may be eligible for higher UI benefits You may be asked to provide documentation proving your actual earnings. Some of those documents may include:

  • Pay stubs,
  • W-2 Forms,
  • Employment contracts, or
  • Bank records.

If it is found that your employer willfully underreported or failed to report your earnings, he or she has committed fraud.


I don't think my employer reported all of my earnings. What do I do?

Once your regular unemployment insurance have expired, some states offer an “Extended Benefits” program that can provide between 7 and 13 additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits during a period of particularly high unemployment within a state. The extension for each person can vary however, resulting in extensions of less than 13 weeks or more than 20 weeks. Trade Readjustment Allowances and Disaster Unemployment Assistance do not need to be exhausted before Extended Benefits can be received.

The Extended Benefits program continues the regular amount of unemployment insurance that you currently receive, but all those who receive unemployment benefits are not automatically eligible for extended benefits. Those receiving unemployment insurance benefits will be notified if their state enters a period when Extended Benefits are available.


My unemployment insurance benefits are about to expire- can I receive an extension?

Once your regular unemployment insurance have expired, some states offer an “Extended Benefits” program that can provide between 7 and 13 additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits during a period of particularly high unemployment within a state. The extension for each person can vary however, resulting in extensions of less than 13 weeks or more than 20 weeks. Trade Readjustment Allowances and Disaster Unemployment Assistance do not need to be exhausted before Extended Benefits can be received.

The Extended Benefits program continues the regular amount of unemployment insurance that you currently receive, but all those who receive unemployment benefits are not automatically eligible for extended benefits. Those receiving unemployment insurance benefits will be notified if their state enters a period when Extended Benefits are available.


Where can I find more information?

At our site’s listing of state government agencies, you can find the contact information and web links for the agency in your state which oversees the unemployment compensation program in order to obtain further information about the laws in your state concerning unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Appeals


I was turned down for benefits, and think that the state was wrong in determining that I was ineligible. Can I appeal the state's determination?

Yes, but do so as quickly as possible. Once you receive your denial in the mail, you typically have between 10 and 30 days to request an appeal. Each state has its own procedure, so after your hearing is scheduled you may want to contact your local unemployment office or state agency for specific information regarding the appeal process. Remember to continue claiming weekly benefits for any week that you are unemployed during this time.


What if my employers disagrees with the decision to award me benefits? Can my employer appeal?

The appeals process generally operates the same way, whether it is initiated by you after a denial of benefits, or by your employer after you have been awarded benefits.

There are many reasons why an employer may appeal the grant of unemployment benefits. Currently, employers pay taxes that contribute to unemployment benefits. Their tax rates are dependent upon the number of employees filing claims. An employer may try to minimize the amount of taxes they have to pay by appealing every determination they receive.

An employer may also simply disagree that you are eligible for benefits. They may claim that you quit without good cause, engaged in misconduct, or violated workplace policies. Fortunately, you will be able to present witnesses and evidence at the hearing to prove your employer wrong.


Do I need a lawyer to represent me in an unemployment appeal?

You can either hire an attorney or represent yourself in the hearing. The process is designed for non-lawyers, so don’t be intimidated if you don’t have a lawyer. Every day thousands of unemployed workers win UI benefit appeals without the benefit of a lawyer. However, an attorney can help guide you through the appeal process and provide peace of mind. There may also be low-cost legal aid available to you in your area.

If your employer is appealing (and has a practice of appealing all or most unemployment claims), then be prepared for your employer to have a lawyer or to use an agency which specializes in opposing unemployment claims.


How should I prepare for an unemployment appeal?

Remember that this hearing is your only chance to present your side of the case, so you will want to prepare an organized presentation of why the state was wrong to deny you benefits. Do your best to educate yourself on your state’s unemployment eligibility requirements and gather evidence to persuasively explain your situation. Pay special attention to deadlines. If you fail to appear at a hearing, you will likely lose your case.

Before the appeals hearing you have a chance to review your file and unemployment notice regarding why you were denied benefits. Be prepared to counter your employer’s allegations, whatever they may be. For example, it may be that you didn’t commit the act of misconduct for which you are charged or that you have a reason why it was a mistake, not intentional. You might need to demonstrate why you had good reason to quit or why you actually didn’t quit at all but were told that you were being fired. Whatever the theory, you need to be able to explain it clearly and develop it with evidence.

Some states have user-friendly explanations of the unemployment law. Use those resources to identify what you need to prove to be eligible for benefits.


What if I need an interpreter or other special accommodation?

If you require an accommodation during the hearing, contact your office of unemployment appeals right away and let them know. You should make this request early so that the office has time to reasonably accommodate you.


What evidence can I present at an appeal hearing?

Evidence typically presented at an appeal hearing includes oral testimony from you and from witnesses, and documentation such as letters, business records, phone bills, etc. that you can use to substantiate your version of events. If this evidence is in your employer’s possession, you can ask the administrative law judge to subpoena the records. A judge can also issue a subpoena to an individual witness to require them to attend the hearing and testify.

You can bring notes with you to the hearing. You will want to bring multiple copies of any documents that you want to present as evidence to be able to give to the judge and the other side.


How should I conduct myself at the hearing?

Be sure to dress and behave professionally at all times. Although hearings are naturally adversarial, do your best to remain calm and polite when speaking to witnesses, your employer, and the judge. Judges are concerned with the facts of the case, so do not view the hearing as an opportunity to seek revenge or insult your former employer by being rude or argumentative. Simply use your knowledge of the situation and any evidence you have to show that your version is supported by the facts.


What will happen at the hearing?

Both you and your employer will have an opportunity to present your respective side of the case. The judge will ask you questions, which you should answer truthfully. If there is anything that you believe is important that the judge leaves out, you should respectfully ask for the opportunity to testify about it. After you testify, you will have the opportunity to ask questions of the other side and ultimately to make a closing statement of why you should receive unemployment benefits. During your closing statement, recap the main facts of your argument and remember to be concise.


What if I miss the deadline to file my appeal?

Unemployment agencies strictly enforce their deadlines. If you have missed the deadline, call your unemployment office immediately to see if you can still request a hearing. Unfortunately, unless you have a very good reason why you failed to do so, there is not much you can do. This is why it is very important to promptly open every piece of mail that you receive regarding your unemployment and to review it closely for any mention of hearing or appeal rights.However, many agencies may allow you to request an appeal after the deadline if any of these circumstances apply:

  • Serious illness;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Mental or physical incapacitation;
  • Notice not in primary language; or
  • Notice of decision and right to appeal arrive after hearing date.


What should I do if I cannot attend the hearing?

If you cannot attend the hearing you should immediately contact the hearing department (generally by phone) to find out how to request an adjournment (rescheduling) of your hearing. Make sure to follow up on any such request by confirming it in writing (and to retain a copy) in order to make a paper record. You should explain why you are unable to attend and ask for it to be rescheduled.

In some states (e.g. New York), the agency may deny your request for an adjournment, but will still allow you to request a new hearing after the first hearing goes forward without you.


What happens if I win my appeal?

If you win the appeal, you will be entitled to collect benefits in the future. You will also be entitled to collect any benefits that you certified for but were not paid following the initial determination of ineligibility as long as you continued filing weekly claims during your appeal. Your employer or the state may still appeal the new decision to a higher level. Watch for any correspondence from the employer or the unemployment agency. You may be required to submit a written letter explaining why the appeal decision was correct.


What happens if I lose my appeal?

If you lose at your hearing, you can appeal to a higher level of review. If you decide not to appeal the decision and are found ineligible for benefits, you won’t be eligible again until after you’ve earned a certain amount of money from a future job. You may also be required to repay benefits that you’ve received. Alternatively, the decision may find that you were ineligible for a certain period of time but allow you to collect benefits after that period.

If you have questions, call the unemployment agency to get clarification. Most states provide a written decision that explains the basis of the decision and the effect of the decision. It is important to read it closely to determine the exact implications for your unemployment insurance.


Once the appeal has been issued, is there any right to appeal further if I am unhappy with the result?

Yes. Most states provide multiple levels of review of unemployment decisions, with the final decisions going to an appeals court. If you lose the first round appeal or hearing, you can appeal that decision to an appeal board that is part of the same unemployment agency. Read the decision closely for information on how to appeal and follow the rules and deadlines closely. Most appeals to an appeal board involve only a written submission, rather than any in-person testimony. You must explain why you believe that the judge’s decision was incorrect, so be specific and point to clear errors in the facts or the law.

Unemployment Discrimination


What is unemployment discrimination?

Unemployment discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to consider or offer employment to unemployed individuals. Employers, recruiters, and others who screen out the unemployed from the hiring process are committing unemployment discrimination. Many employers have argued that there are valid reasons to not consider the unemployed for job positions. For example, long gaps in an individual’s work history may indicate that the job seeker is no longer up-to-date on new developments in the field.

Unemployment discrimination is a very real problem that affects millions of capable, out-of-work individuals. If you are unemployed, stay connected to your profession by taking classes, volunteering, and networking with industry contacts. You’ll want to do this to fill long gaps in your employment history.


How serious is the problem of unemployment discrimination?

It is very serious. A stigma persists that unemployed and laid-off workers are to blame for their situation, perhaps due to poor work ethic or bad personalities. Because of this, studies show that some employers have begun discriminating against unemployed and laid-off workers when they apply for work. Research indicates that applicants who had been unemployed for just one month were seen as less hirable to HR professionals. This bias worsens the longer an individual is out of work.


Are there any laws that protect the unemployed from discrimination?

Currently, there are no federal laws that protect against unemployment discrimination on the basis of a worker’s unemployment status. Under current anti-discrimination laws the unemployed are not a protected class, so unemployed individuals do not have standing to use certain discrimination statutes. The American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama in 2011 would have prohibited unemployment discrimination, but did not pass in the Senate. To date, no similar bills have made it past Congress.

At an EEOC hearing in February, 2011 on the issue of unemployment discrimination, several witnesses testified that excluding the unemployed could have a marked impact on the disabled, certain ethnic groups, older individuals, and women. Consult with an attorney or anti-discrimination agency to determine if the EEOC has taken further action on the issue of unemployment discrimination.


What state laws protect the unemployed from discrimination?

A dozen states have tried and failed to enact laws making some forms of unemployment discrimination illegal. Currently, these are the only states that have passed legislation protecting the unemployed:

  • New Jersey: Employers are prohibited from publishing advertisements excluding the unemployed from applying.
  • New York: Employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of employment status, which has become a protected class.
  • Oregon: Employers are prohibited from publishing advertisements excluding the unemployed from applying.

Washington, D.C.: Employers are prohibited from publishing advertisements excluding the unemployed from applying and are prohibited from discrimination on the basis of employment status, which has become a protected class.


What counts as unemployment discrimination?

It is very difficult to prove that an employer has unlawfully discriminated against an unemployed individual in the hiring process, since the employer could have decided not to hire the person for a number of other reasons. Consult with an attorney or anti-discrimination agency for more information.

Filing an Unemployment Claim in Your State


Alabama

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Alabama?You can apply online or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will depend on the wages you earned in your base period. Benefits per week range from a minimum of $45 to a maximum of $265.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits for?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but the length of time will not be less than 16 weeks nor more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found here). You must also register for employment with the Alabama Employment Service. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 days of the date the decision was mailed to you, or, if given to you in person, within 7 days from when you received it. Your appeal must be in writing, and may be submitted by fax or by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Alabama’s unemployment insurance laws:


Alaska

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively, the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Alaska?You can apply online at http://www.labor.state.ak.us/esd_unemployment_insurance/ or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your claim is based on wages paid to you in your base period. The maximum weekly benefit amount in Alaska is $370, and the minimum weekly benefit amount is $56.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period. However, benefits lastnot less than 16 weeks but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file bi-weekly (every 2 weeks). Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found here (http://www.labor.state.ak.us/esd_unemployment_insurance/work_search_log.pdf). To be actively seeking employment, you must contact at least one person who has the authority to hire, submit 1 application or resume, or apply for a job via ALEXsys each week you file for benefits. You must also register for employment with the Alaska Jobs Center http://jobs.alaska.gov/ within 7 days of your initial application. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 30 days. Your appeal may be submitted by phone, by fax, by mail, or by e-mail. Also, you must keep filing your bi-weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Alaska’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Alaska Website http://www.labor.state.ak.us/esd_unemployment_insurance/Read the Claimant Handbook http://www.labor.state.ak.us/esd_unemployment_insurance/uihandbook.pdf


Arizona

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Arizona?You can apply online (https://www.azdes.gov/landing.aspx?id=5241) or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by computing 4% of your base period wage quarter in which your earnings were the highest. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $240.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but it will not last more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found here (https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=317&id=986)). You must additionally register with the Department of Economic Security Employment Service. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted over the phone by calling the number on the determination, or you can appeal by mail by using the Request for Appeal form found here (https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=317&id=986). Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Arizona’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Arizona Website (https://www.azdes.gov/landing.aspx?id=4211)Read the Claimant Handbook (https://www.azdes.gov/InternetFiles/Pamphlets/pdf/pau-007-PD.pdf)


Arkansas

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Arkansas?You can apply online at https://www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov/, in-person, or by mail.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by the amount of wages in the quarter of the base period in which your earnings were the highest.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits for?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but will not last more than 25 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking employment, each week you must contact the number of employers that are assigned to you. You must also register with the Department of Workforce Services Employment Services. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 20 calendar days from the date of the decision. Your appeal must be in writing, and may be submitted in-person or by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Arkansas’ unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Arkansas Website http://www.accessarkansas.org/esd/UI/index.htmRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.accessarkansas.org/esd/UI/PDF/UI%20Claimant%20Handbook.pdf


California

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in California?You can apply online at https://eapply4ui.edd.ca.gov/, by mail, by fax, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by the amount of wages in the quarter of the base period in which your earnings were the highest. The minimum weekly benefit amount is $40, and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $450.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but benefits are not available for more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file bi-weekly (every 2 weeks) by completing a claim form, signing, dating it, and returning it to the Employment Development Department for payment. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). You must also register with EDD Workforce Services, which can be done so here http://www.caljobs.ca.gov/. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 20 calendar days from the date of the decision. Your appeal must be in writing, and it must state the reasons you disagree with the decision. Your appeal must be submitted by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on California’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of California Website http://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Read the Claimant Handbook http://www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de1275a.pdf


Colorado

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Colorado?You can apply online at http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDLE-UnempBenefits/CDLE/1248095315427 or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is based on your base period earnings. For an estimate, use the Colorado Unemployment Benefits Estimator http://www.coworkforce.com/uibEstimator/.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking employment, each week you must contact the number of employers the workforce center assigns you. You must also register with Connecting Colorado at www.connectingcolorado.com or at your local workforce center for work search tools within your first week. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 20 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Colorado’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Colorado Website https://www.colorado.gov/cdle/unemploymentRead the Claimant Handbook https://www.colorado.gov/cdle/node/41376


Connecticut

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Connecticut?You can apply online at https://sso.ctdol.state.ct.us/English/CommonLogin/CommonLogin.aspx, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 1/26 of the average of the 2 highest quarters during your base period (or the single highest quarter for construction workers), but cannot exceed the maximum benefit rate established by law.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but the length will not be more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. While Connecticut state law does not set a specified number of contacts each week to be considered actively seeking work, courts have said contacting 3 employers each week is a reasonable effort to find work. You must also register with the Career Center. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 21 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted online at http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/appeals/apfrmnt.htm, in person, by mail, or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Connecticut’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Connecticut State Website http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/UI-OnLine/index.htmRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/progsupt/unemplt/claimant-guide/uc-288.pdf


Delaware

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Delaware?You can apply online at https://uics.delawareworks.com/Forms/Form_WL1.aspx, or in person.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 1/46 of your wages in the 2 highest wage quarters in your base period. However, no one who is eligible for benefits will receive less than $20 or more than $330 a week, if eligible.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, and you can receive a total amount of benefits equal to 50% of your base period wages or 26 times your weekly benefit amount, whichever is less.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking work, you must contact at least 1 employer each week you file for benefits. You must also report to a local office when instructed to do so. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 10 calendar days from the date of the decision. Your appeal may be submitted in person or by mail to your local office. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Delaware’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Delaware State Website http://ui.delawareworks.com/Read the Claimant Handbook http://ui.delawareworks.com/documents/UI%20Claimant%20Handbook.pdf


District of Columbia

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in the District of Columbia?You can apply online at https://does.dcnetworks.org/claimantservices/.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by the amount of wages in the quarter of the base period in which your earnings were the highest.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, and you can receive a total amount of benefits equal to 50% of your base period wages or 26 times your weekly benefit amount, whichever is less.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking work, you must contact at least 2 employers each week you file for benefits. You must also register for work with your local DC Works! One Stop Career Center. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you should keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you could only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal. For more information on appeals, log in here https://does.dcnetworks.org/ClaimantServices/logon.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fclaimantservices%2fappealsinquiry.aspx
  7. For more information on D.C.’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the District of Columbia Website http://does.dc.gov/service/unemployment-compensation-process


Florida

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Finally, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Florida?You can apply online at https://www2.myflorida.com/fluid/.
  3. How much will I receive?To calculate your weekly benefit amount, use the quarter in the base period with your highest earnings and divide the earnings by 26. This number is your weekly benefit amount. The minimum weekly benefit amount is $32 and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $275.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not less than 6 weeks and not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file bi-weekly (every 2 weeks). Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking work, you must contact at least 5 employers each week you file for benefits (or, if you are not able to do so, you can meet with a representative at a local One-Stop Career Center). You must also complete an online skills review. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits.How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 20 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted online https://iap.floridajobs.org/IAP_INTER/process.asp or by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Florida’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Florida State Website http://www.floridajobs.org/job-seekers-community-services/unemployment-compensation-benefits-center/file-a-claimRead Claimant Guides:Benefit Rights Information http://www.floridajobs.org/Unemployment/bri/bri_english.pdfClaimant Book http://www.floridajobs.org/job-seekers-community-services/reemployment-assistance-center/file-a-claim-with-connect/claims-process


Georgia

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Georgia?You can apply online http://www.dol.state.ga.us/js/file_unemployment_insurance_claim.htm, over the phone, or in person.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be based on the amount of wages you earned in your base period. Currently, the minimum weekly benefit amount is $44, and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $330.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not less than 6 weeks and not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking work, you must contact employers as instructed each week you file for benefits. You must register for work with the Georgia Department of Labor’s Employment Service, if so instructed. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing, and it may be submitted by mail, by fax, or in person to a Georgia Department of Labor Career Center. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Georgia’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Georgia State Website http://www.dol.state.ga.us/js/Read the Claimant Handbook http://www.dol.state.ga.us/pdf/forms/dol414.pdf


Hawaii

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Hawaii?You can apply online at https://huiclaims2.hawaii.gov/UI_ClaimWEB/home.jsf, over the phone, or in person.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is calculated by dividing your highest base period quarter wages by 21. There is a maximum weekly benefit amount set for each calendar year, and you can find that information here http://hawaii.gov/labor/ui/ui-quick-facts/tax-rates-and-weekly-benefit-amt.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (you must use a form provided by Hawaii, it can he found her http://hawaii.gov/labor/forms/forms/UC-253_Record_of_Job_Contacts.pdf. To be actively seeking work, you must make at least 3 employer contacts each week you file for benefits. You must register for work with the State Workforce Development Division within 7 days of your initial application, and you must post an online resume on HireNet Hawaii https://www.hirenethawaii.com/. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 10 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing, and it may be submitted by mail or in person. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Hawaii’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Hawaii State Website http://hawaii.gov/labor/uiRead the Claimant Handbook http://hawaii.gov/labor/ui/pdf/UI-UC-266_Rev_5-12.pdf


Idaho

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Idaho?You can apply online athttp://labor.idaho.gov/IW/UIClaim/Main.asp?strMenu=FILECLAIM, over the phone, or in person.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount you receive for unemployment is based up your base period earnings. The maximum amount you may receive per week on unemployment is determined by taking the highest quarterly amount from your base period and dividing that amount by 26. The current range for unemployment weekly benefits runs from $72.00 per week minimum to $334.00 per week maximum.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits for?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not less than 10 weeks and not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 14 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing and signed, and it may be submitted by mail or in person. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Idaho’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Idaho State Website http://labor.idaho.gov/dnn/UnemploymentInsurance/tabid/680/Default.aspxRead the Claimant Handbook http://labor.idaho.gov/dnn/idl/Publications/tabid/672/Default.aspx


Illinois

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Illinois?You can apply online at http://www.ides.illinois.gov/page.aspx?item=2572, or in person.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by the total wages paid to you by each of your employers during your “base” period. The minimum amount of benefits for an individual is $51 a week, and the maximum is $385 per week. Claimants with non-working spouses can receive up to $458 per week, and up to $531 a week with dependent children.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so will be given to you when you apply for benefits). You must register with the Illinois Employment Service, either online at www.IllinoisJobLink.com or at a local Illinois Department of Employment Security office. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 30 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted by mail, by fax, or in person. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Illinois’ unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Illinois State Website http://www.ides.illinois.gov/page.aspx?item=33Read the Claimant Handbook http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Custom/Library/publications/Publications/UnemploymentInsuranceBenefitsHandbook.pdf


Indiana

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Indiana?You can apply online at http://www.in.gov/dwd/2362.htm, or in person.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 5% of the first $2,000 you earned in the highest quarter of your base period, PLUS 4% of the amount over $2,000 in the highest quarter  limited to a maximum wage credit of $9,250. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $390, as set by Indiana law.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking employment, you must, at minimum, look for work at 3 locations each week you claim benefits. You must register for work within 10 days of your initial application at www.IndianaCAREERConnect.com. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must mail or fax your appeal within 10 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you (noted on the front of the determination). Your appeal must be in writing. Also, you should keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you could only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal. Finally, you must attend the hearing, or your appeal will be dismissed.
  7. For more information on Indiana’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Indiana State Website http://www.in.gov/dwd/2334.htmRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.in.gov/dwd/files/Claimant_Handbook.pdf


Iowa

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Iowa?You can apply online at http://www.iowaworkforce.org/ui/file1.htm, in person, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by your gross wages from all covered employers in the high quarter of your base period, and by the number of dependents you claim. The minimum and maximum weekly benefit amounts change each year for new claims filed after the first Sunday in July.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking employment, you must make at least 2 employer contacts each week you claim benefits. You must register for work with the Iowa Workforce Development. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 10 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Iowa’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Iowa State Website http://www.iowaworkforce.org/ui/index.htmlRead the Claimant Handbook online http://www.iowaworkforce.org/ui/guide.htm or PDF http://www.iowaworkforce.org/ui/claimants/70-6200factsforworkers.pdf


Kansas

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Kansas?You can apply online https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/default.asp or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is calculated by multiplying the highest quarter in the base period by 4.25 percent.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits for?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found here https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/weekly/ccweekly_privacy.asp.) You must register for work at a workforce center. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 16 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Kansas’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Kansas State Website http://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Read the Claimant Handbook https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/documents/KBENP0950.pdf


Kentucky

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Kentucky?You can apply online at https://uiclaims.des.ky.gov/ebenefit/, in person, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 1.3078% of your total base period wages, except it cannot be less than $39.00 nor more than the maximum that is set by law each year. For an estimate, use the State’s Weekly UI Benefit Calculator at http://www.oet.ky.gov/ui/uiben.asp.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The maximum amount of benefits payable to you within any benefit year will be the amount equal to whichever is the lesser of 26 times your weekly benefit rate, or 1/3 of your base period wages, except that your maximum amount cannot be less than fifteen 15 times your weekly benefit rate.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). You must register for work with the Office of Employment and Training. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within a specified amount of time. Your appeal must be in writing and may be submitted by mail or in person. You can find more information on appeals here http://www.oet.ky.gov/ui/appeals/page41.asp. Also, you should keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you could only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Kentucky’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Kentucky State Website http://www.oet.ky.gov/ui/ui.htmRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.oet.ky.gov/des/documents/PAM-UI-400_0512.pdf


Louisiana

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Louisiana?You can apply online https://laors.laworks.net/Appeals/ui_appealform.asp, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will equal 1/25 of the average of the total wages for covered employment paid to you during the 4 quarters of your base period. This amount will be multiplied by 1.05, and the product will be multiplied by 1.15. The resulting weekly benefit amount cannot exceed $247 or be less than $10.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking employment, you must contact at least 3 different employers each week you file for benefits, and you must register with your local Business & Career Solutions Center within 14 days of your initial claim. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted online https://laors.laworks.net/Appeals/ui_appealform.asp, by mail, or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Louisiana’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Louisiana State Website http://www.laworks.net/UnemploymentInsurance/UI_Claimants.aspRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.laworks.net/Downloads/UI/UIBenefitRightsInformation.pdf


Maine

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Maine?You can apply online at https://gateway.maine.gov/dol/mics/, by mail (forms to do so can be found here http://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/publications/index.shtml, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount (up to the limit provided for under State law) is determined by dividing the average of the wages in the 2 highest quarters of your base period by 22.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you do so will be mailed to you, and you will have to send these in every few weeks). To be actively seeking employment, you must make employer contacts in person, by mail, or online. Telephone contacts will not be considered seeking employment, unless the employer has specifically asked for this type of communication. Your work search efforts may have to be increased after 12 weeks of receiving benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal may be submitted online at http://www.maine.gov/labor/appeals/intro.htm, in person, by mail, by telephone, or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Maine’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Maine Website http://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/benefits.htmlRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/attach.php?id=16954&an=1


Maryland

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Maryland?You can apply online https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/NetClaims/Welcome.aspx, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum weekly benefit amount of $25 per week to a maximum weekly benefit amount of $430 per week. Your weekly benefit amount is determined by your wages during the base period.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits for?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking employment, you must make at least 2 employer contacts each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 calendar days from the date the decision was issued to you. Your appeal must be in writing and may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal, and you must continue seeking work.
  7. For more information on Maryland’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Maryland Website http://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibenefits.shtmlRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/clmtguide/uiclmtpamphlet.pdf


Massachusetts

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your primary base period (the last 4 completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the date on which your claim is effective). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Massachusetts?You can apply in person, or over the phone, for information see http://www.mass.gov/lwd/unemployment-insur/claimants/.
  3. How much will I receive?You can receive a weekly benefit of approximately 50 percent of your weekly wage, up to a maximum of $653 per week.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits for?The maximum number of weeks you can collect full benefits is 30 (capped at 26 weeks during periods of extended benefits).
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking employment, you must make at least 3 employer contacts each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You may appeal a disqualification by requesting a hearing. To request a hearing, you should complete the bottom of your disqualification notice, indicating you want to appeal the decision. Appeals maybe filed by mail, by fax, or in person. Your request must be in writing and filed within 10 calendar days of the mailing date of the disqualification.
  7. For more information on Massachusetts’ unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Massachusetts Website http://www.mass.gov/lwd/unemployment-insur/Read the Claimant Handbook http://www.mass.gov/lwd/docs/dua/p2594-508.pdf


Michigan

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Michigan?You can apply online at http://www.michigan.gov/uia/0,1607,7-118-52610_52650-207424–,00.html, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will equal 4.1% of the highest quarter wages in the base period, plus $6 for each dependent claimed up to 5 dependents. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $362. You can calculate your estimated weekly benefit amount here http://www.michigan.gov/uia/0,4680,7-118-26831-82227–,00.html#weekly.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?You may receive benefits for between 14 and 20 weeks, depending on your base period wages. You can calculate how long you will receive benefits here http://www.michigan.gov/uia/0,4680,7-118-26831-82227–,00.html#length.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file bi-weekly (every 2 weeks). You must register for work by filing a resume in the Michigan Talent Bank, and you must go to a Michigan Works! Service Center to verify this action. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 30 calendar days from the date the decision was issued to you. Your appeal must be in writing and may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you should keep filing your bi-weekly claims regularly because you may only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Michigan’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Michigan Website http://www.michigan.gov/uia/0,4680,7-118-26831—,00.htmlRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.michigan.gov/documents/uia_UC1905_76147_7.pdf


Minnesota

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Minnesota?You can apply online https://www1.uimn.org/ui_applicant/applicant/login.do, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your unemployment benefits will be approximately half of your average weekly gross wage in the base period up to the state maximum of $597. Your weekly benefit amount will be the higher of your highest quarter of wages in the base period divided by 26, up to a maximum of $385, or your total base period wages divided by 104 up to a maximum of $597.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The maximum amount of benefits you can receive is between 11 and 26 weeks, depending upon the wages you earned in the base period of your benefit account. This will be the lower of either your weekly benefit amount multiplied by 26, or your total base period wages divided by 3.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You may appeal online http://www.uimn.org/uimn/applicants/howappeal/, by mail, or by fax within the timeframe specified on the determination to be appealed. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Minnesota’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Minnesota Website http://www.uimn.org/uimn/applicants/Read the Claimant Handbook:PDF http://www.uimn.org/uimn/images/22c.pdf  or Web Page http://www.uimn.org/uimn/applicants/howapply/info-handbook/index.jsp.


Mississippi

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Mississippi?You can apply online at http://mdes.ms.gov/information-center/about-mdes/online-services/, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is determined by dividing your high quarter earnings by 26 and rounding the answer to the next lower dollar. Your weekly benefit amount, however, cannot be less than $30 or more than $235. For more information, use the Employment Security Department’s Weekly Benefits Amount Table http://mdes.ms.gov/unemployment-claims/benefit-information/weekly-benefit-amounts/.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. You must register for work at the Employment Service in your area. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found herehttp://mdes.ms.gov/unemployment-claims/unemployment-applicant-services/. To be actively seeking employment, you must make at least 3 employer contacts each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 14 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing. To file an appeal, you should report to the claims center or itinerant point where proper forms and information are available, or you can submit your appeal by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Mississippi’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Mississippi Website http://mdes.ms.gov/unemployment-claims/Read the Claimant Handbook http://mdes.ms.gov/unemployment-claims/benefit-information/ui-claimant-handbook/


Missouri

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Missouri?You can apply online at https://www.ui.labor.mo.gov/som/, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 4 percent of the average of the two highest quarterly wages in the base period, not to exceed $320. All weekly benefits are rounded down to an even dollar. For an estimate, use Missouri’s Benefits Calculator http://labor.mo.gov/DES/Claims/calculator.asp.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 20 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly, and unless directed otherwise, report in person at least once every 4 weeks to a Missouri Career Center or other designated office. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work, and you must report any wages you have earned. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you do so can be found here https://www.ui.labor.mo.gov/som/. You will be notified how many employer contacts you will have to make each week to be considered actively seeking employment. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits.How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 30 calendar days from the date of the decision for denial. Your appeal must be in writing, and must be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you should keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you may only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Missouri’s unemployment insurance laws:
  8. Visit the State of Missouri Website http://www.labor.mo.gov/DES/Claims/Additional Information http://www.labor.mo.gov/DES/Claims/more_info.asp


Montana

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Montana?You can apply online at https://app.mt.gov/ui4u/index, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount of your weekly benefit amount will be based upon your base period earnings. For an estimate, use Montana’s Benefits Estimator at http://uid.dli.mt.gov/uid/estimator.asp.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file bi-weekly (every 2 weeks). You are required to register for work, and you can do so online at jobs.mt.gov or at any Workforce Service Center. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook), and you are required to keep this record for 3 years for auditing purposes. To be actively seeking employment, you must make at least 1 employer contact each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 10 calendar days from the date of the decision. You can submit your appeal online https://app.mt.gov/ui4u/index, by phone, by mail, or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Montana’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Montana Website http://uid.dli.mt.gov/uihome.aspRead the Claimant Handbook http://uid.dli.mt.gov/bri/cover.asp


Nebraska

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters for some). You must have worked a job where your employer paid unemployment insurance tax on your wages. Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Nebraska?You can apply online https://uibenefits.nwd.ne.gov/BPSWeb/jsp/BPSClaimantLogin.jsp, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be set at one-half of your average weekly wage based on the highest earnings quarter of your base period, rounded down to the nearest even dollar amount.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. You may be required to register for Employment Services, and you can do so online at neworks.nebraska.gov or at any Career Center location. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking employment, you must make at least 2 employer contacts each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 20 calendar days from the date the Determination was mailed to you. You can submit your appeal online at www.dol.nebraska.gov, or in writing by mail or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Nebraska’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Nebraska Website https://uibenefits.nwd.ne.gov/BPSWeb/jsp/BPSClaimantWelcome.jspRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.dol.nebraska.gov/


Nevada

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters for some). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Nevada?You can apply online at http://www.ui.nvdetr.org/UI_Agreement.html, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 1/25, or 4%, of your highest quarter earnings. This amount cannot be more than the maximum weekly benefit amount, which is set by law each year, beginning July 1.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?Your appeal must be filed within 11 days of the date the decision was mailed to you. You may appeal the decision by sending a letter to the address shown on the decision requesting an appeal. Additionally, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Nevada’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Nevada Website http://detr.state.nv.us/ESD%20Pages/File%20UI%20claim%20.htmRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.detr.state.nv.us/ESD%20Pages/ESD_docs/UI_Claimants_Handbook.pdf


New Hampshire

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in New Hampshire?You can apply online at https://nhuis.nh.gov/claimant/.
  3. How much will I receive?The actual amount you will receive if you meet all eligibility requirements depends on your earnings in what is called the Base Period. For an estimate, the Department of Employment Security has a Benefits Estimator https://nhuis.nh.gov/claimant/index_wba.jsp#est.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must register for work, which can be done here https://nhworksjobmatch.nhes.nh.gov/. You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 14 calendar days from the date the Determination was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing, and you can submit it in person, by mail, or by email. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on New Hampshire’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of New Hampshire Website http://www.nhes.nh.gov/services/claimants/index.htmRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.nhes.nh.gov/forms/documents/1063-1-11.pdf


New Jersey

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters for some). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in New Jersey?You can apply online at https://njsuccess.dol.state.nj.us/njsuccess/html/fileAClaimHome.htm, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount will be 60% of the average weekly wage you were paid during your base period, up to the maximum amount payable. For an estimate, use the Labor and Workforce Department’s Benefits Estimator at http://lwd.state.nj.us/uiapp/Start.html.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?Claimants who file for unemployment benefits may be directed to register for work with the One-Stop Career Center. You will not be directed to register if you are scheduled to return to work within 8 weeks or normally obtain work through a union hiring hall. You must keep all scheduled appointments, and you must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (Forms to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking work, you must contact 3 employers each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 7 days of the delivery, or within 10 days of the mailing, of the decision for denial. You may appeal by mail or by fax to the address shown on the determination. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on New Jersey’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of New Jersey Website http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/ui/ui_index.htmlRead the Claimant Handbook http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/ui/PR-94.pdf


New Mexico

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters for some). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in New Mexico?You can apply online at www.dws.state.nm.us, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is based on an amount equal to 52.5% of the average weekly wage for insured work paid to you in that quarter of your base period in which total wages were highest. Most of the time, taking the highest quarter in your base period, dividing this by 13 and multiply by 53.5% can make the calculation. You can receive a minimum of $72 to a maximum of $386.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly, and you must register for work with the Department of Workforce Solutions within 14 days of your initial claim. You can do so here https://www.jobs.state.nm.us/. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). To be actively seeking work, you must contact at least two employers each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 days of the date of the decision for denial. You may appeal by mail, by fax, or over the phone. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on New Mexico’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of New Mexico Website http://www.dws.state.nm.us/new/UI/index.htmlRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.dws.state.nm.us/Mobile/UnemploymentInsurance/Publications/UIHandbook


New York

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in New York?You can apply over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit rate is one twenty-sixth (1/26) of the high quarter wages paid to you in your base period. The maximum rate is $405.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work, and after 13 weeks of benefits, suitable work may include work that pays 80% of your normal wages and work that you have no formal training for.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 30 days of the date of the decision for denial. Your appeal must be in writing, and it must be mailed to the New York State Department of Labor. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on New York’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the New York State Website http://www.labor.state.ny.us/unemploymentassistance.shtmRead the Claimant handbook http://www.labor.state.ny.us/formsdocs/ui/TC318.3e.pdf


North Carolina

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in North Carolina?You can apply online. https://www.ncesc1.com/individual/webInitialClaims/applyBegin.asp.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be computed by dividing the sum of the wages earned during the highest quarter of the base period by 26, rounded down to the next lower whole dollar. The weekly benefit amount ranges from $45 to $522. For an estimate of the benefits you will receive, use the Benefits Estimator https://www.ncesc1.com/individual/EstimateBenefits/ESTBenefitsMain.asp from the Division of Employment Security.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The total number of weeks you can receive benefits ranges from 12 to 26 weeks. The duration will be based on the wages you were paid and the amount of time you worked during your base period.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must report any offers for employment to the Employment Security Commission. You must register for work with the Employment Security Commission. You must continue to file weekly, and you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. Also, you must actively seek work. To be actively seeking work you must do those things that an unemployed person who wants to work would normally do. Unless otherwise instructed, you must seek work in person on 2 different days with at least 2 different employers and must keep a written record of all work search contacts for periodic review by the Commission.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal in writing within 30 days of the date of the decision for denial. Decisions may be appealed in person, online at esc.public.appeals@ncesc.gov, by fax,or by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on North Carolina’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of North Carolina Website http://www.ncesc1.com/individual/UI/UIMain.aspRead the Claimant Guide https://www.ncesc1.com/individual/downloads/benefitRights1.pdf


”North


Ohio

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Ohio?You can apply online https://unemployment.cmt.ohio.gov/cmtview/index.html, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is computed at 50% of your average weekly wage during your base period. However, in no case may the weekly benefit amount exceed the state’s annually established maximums. The maximum levels are based on the statewide average weekly wage and the number of dependents claimed. For an estimate, you can use the Department of Job and Family Services Benefits Estimator http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/uiben/.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal in writing within 21 days of the date of the decision for denial. Decisions may be appealed online (unemployment.Ohio.gov), by fax,or by mail. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Ohio’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Ohio State Website http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouc/ClaimInformationPage.stmClaimant Handbook http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/file.asp?id=2187&type=application/pdf


Oklahoma

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Oklahoma?You can apply online https://unemployment.state.ok.us/, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your benefit amount will depend on your base period wages, but it will not be less than $16. The maximum amount is dependent on the conditional factor of the trust fund.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking work, you must contact 2 employers each week you file, and you may not repeat employers from a previous week until 4 weeks have passed since you last contacted them. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 10 days of the mailing date of the decision for denial. You can file your appeal by mail, by fax, by email, by telephone, or in person. The mailing address, fax number, telephone number, and email address will be included in your decision for denial. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Oklahoma’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Oklahoma Website http://www.ok.gov/oesc_web/Services/Unemployment_Insurance/UI_Claimant_Info.htmlRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.ok.gov/oesc_web/documents/Reemployment%20Assistance%20for%20the%20Unemployed%20-%20Revised%20July%202014v2.pdf


Oregon

  1. You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Oregon?You can apply online at https://ssl8.emp.state.or.us/ocs4/index.cfm?u=F20120518A081234B29215287.2188&lang=E, or over the phone.How much will I receive?
  3. The amount of benefits you will receive depends upon your base period wages. For an estimate, use Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Estimator at http://findit.emp.state.or.us/ocs/estimator/. The minimum weekly benefit amount available is currently $118 a week. The maximum potential weekly benefit is currently $507 a week.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a form to help you do so can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 20 days of the mailing date of the decision for denial. You may request a hearing for your appeal by mailing or faxing the form that will be included in your decision for denial, or you may request a hearing by calling an Unemployment Insurance Center. Additionally, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Oregon’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Oregon Website http://www.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/UI/Claimant Handbook http://www.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/UI/docs/ui_forms/uipub_350-e_1009.pdf


Pennsylvania

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Pennsylvania?You can apply online at https://www.paclaims.state.pa.us/UCEN/Welcome.asp, or over the phone. You may also download a paper application to mail or fax here http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=921889&mode=2.
  3. How much will I receive?You weekly benefit rate will be determined based upon your wages in your base year. The quarter in which you were paid the most money will determine your Weekly Benefit Rate.Your weekly benefit rate should equal about one-half of your full-time weekly wage.For an estimate, use the Department of Labor and Industry’s Rate and Amount of Benefits Chart http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1050899&mode=2.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?Your maximum benefit amount is determined by the number of credit weeks (a calendar week in your base year when you earned wages of $50 or more) in your base year. If you have 18 or more credit weeks, your maximum benefit amount is 26 times your weekly benefit rate. If you have 16 or 17 credit weeks, your maximum benefit amount is 16 times your weekly benefit rate. If you have less than 16 credit weeks, you are not financially eligible for benefits.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continually file for benefits, either weekly or bi-weekly (every two weeks), and you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. Also, you must register with the Pennsylvania Careerlink System, and you must actively seek employment after your second consecutive week of benefits, while keeping a record of your work search activities.To be actively seeking work in Pennsylvania, during your third consecutive week of your benefit year until your eighth consecutive week, you must apply to at least 2 positions that are similar in scope to your normal wages and employment position and are within a generally acceptable commuting distance in your area. From your ninth consecutive week and beyond, you must apply to at least 3 positions, and you may be required to accept any suitable work that you are able to perform. If you apply to more than the required number of jobs in a given week, you need not do more. However, if you only apply to the minimum number required in a given week, you must also do one of the 7 activities listed in Part 2 here http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=830896&mode=2#1.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal within 15 days of the mailing date of the decision for denial. You can find a further explanation of the appeals process, and a petition for appeal form, here http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=961521&mode=2. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Pennsylvania’s unemployment insurance laws:Click here http://www.uc.pa.gov/portal/server.pt/community/uc_pa_gov/11449Claimant handbook http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=552117&mode=2


Rhode Island

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own. You must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Rhode Island?You can apply online https://uiclaims.state.ri.us/RI-ICS/intro/index.aspx?AC=yes or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit rate will be equal to 4.62% of the wages paid to you in the highest quarter of your base period. By law, a maximum weekly benefit rate is determined annually. It is equal to 67% of the average weekly wage of all workers covered by the Employment Security Act. Your weekly benefit rate remains the same throughout your benefit year.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a sample record can be found in the Claimant handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal in writing within 15 days of the mailing date of the decision for denial. Decisions may be appealed online at www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/FormsUI.htm or by mail. Also, you should keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you could only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Rhode Island’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Rhode Island Website http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/Rules http://www.dlt.ri.gov/pdf/UITDIRules1113.pdf


South Carolina

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have made sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). You must have worked a job where your employer paid unemployment insurance tax on your wages. Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in South Carolina?You can apply online at https://mybenefits.dew.sc.gov/_sso/MyDew/DEWLogon.aspx?ru.
  3. How much will I receive?This will depend upon the wages earned in your base period. For an estimate, use the Department of Employment and Workforce’s Benefits Estimator http://www.sces.org/claim-content-benefits.asp?col3=open#Estimator.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 20 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must actively seek appropriate, full-time work. You must regularly report to your local Workforce Center. Also, you must make 4 employer contacts each week, keep a record of these contacts (a form to help with this can be found here http://dew.sc.gov/claim-content-benefits.asp?col5=open#Eligibility), and 1 of these contacts must be through the state’s online system http://www.scworks.org/.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?Your appeal must be in writing, and it must be submitted within 10 days of the date the decision for denial was mailed to you. It may be submitted by mail, by fax or in person. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on South Carolina’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of South Carolina Website http://dew.sc.gov/claim-guide.asp


South Dakota

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have made sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters for some). You must have worked a job where your employer paid unemployment insurance tax on your wages. Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in South Dakota?You can apply online at https://apps.sd.gov/Applications/LD00General/default.aspx?URL_GUID=https://apps.sd.gov/Applications/LD70UIBP/Secure/UIBenefitsProfileLogin.asp?651467643 or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit is 1/26th of the wages paid in the highest quarter of your base period, up to a maximum amount determined by the state’s average weekly wage.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly, and you must report to all Department of Labor and Regulations services. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, making 2 employer contacts each week, while keeping a record of your work search activities (forms to help you with this can be found in the Claimant Handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?Your appeal must be in writing, and it must be submitted within 15 days of the date the decision for denial was mailed to you. It may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal
  7. For more information on South Dakota’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of South Dakota website http://dol.sd.gov/ui/uibenefits.aspx.


Tennessee

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have made sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Tennessee?You can apply online https://ui.tn.gov/ or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?You may receive between $30.00 and $275.00 depending on the total wages earned in the base period.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?You may receive benefits for 13 to 26 weeks, depending on the total wages earned in the base period.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must file weekly claims, be able to work, and be available for work. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. Finally, you must accept suitable work
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must appeal in writing within 15 days of the date of the decision for denial. Your appeal may be filed by mail, by fax, or online https://ui.tn.gov/Pages/FileAnAppeal.aspx. Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Tennessee’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Tennessee Website http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Claimants/appintro.shtmlClaimant Handbook http://tnpaws.tnui.net/GuideToUIBenefits.pdf


Texas

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Texas?You can apply online at http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/unemployment-benefits-services.html#applyBenefits or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount you receive will depend on your base period wages. For an estimate, see the Texas Workforce Commission’s Benefits Estimator at https://services.twc.state.tx.us/UBS/changeLocale.do?language=en&country=US&page=/benefitsEstimator.do.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly, and you must respond when contacted by the Texas Workforce Commission. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities (a sample record can be found in the Claimant handbook). Finally, you must accept suitable work, and this includes considering jobs that pay 75% of your normal wage by your 8th week of unemployment.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?An appeal must be filed in writing, and it must be submitted within 14 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal can be submitted in person at the nearest Workforce Solutions office, or you can mail or fax your letter to the appeals department (the contact information will be on your determination letter). Also, you must keep filing your weekly claims regularly because you will only be paid for weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Texas’ unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Texas website http://www.twc.state.tx.us/customers/jsemp/unemployment-benefits.htmlClaimant Handbook http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/bnfts/bi-99.pdf


Utah

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Utah?You can apply online at https://jobs.utah.gov/ui/initialclaims/welcome.aspx or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?The highest quarter during your base period divided by 26 determines the benefit amount you will receive per week of unemployment, up to a maximum of $467 for new claims effective on or after January 1, 2012.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?If you are eligible for benefits, the number of weeks of regular benefits you may receive will range from 10 to 26.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must file weekly claims, be able to work, and be available for work. Utah suggests that you should contact 4 employers each week to be actively seeking work, and if you fail to contact this number of employers, you may be denied benefits for that week. You must keep a record of your work search contacts, and forms to help you with this can be found in the Claimant Handbook. Also, you are required to complete all ten steps of the work registration for job placement assistance with the Department of Workforce Services, and you can do this at jobs.utah.gov. Finally, you must accept suitable work, and report any wages made.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?An appeal must be in writing, and it may be submitted by fax, by mail, or online at http://jobs.utah.gov/appeals/filing.html. You must continue to file for weekly benefits, as you will only be paid benefits for the weeks you filed if you win your appeal. You can find more information on appeals here http://jobs.utah.gov/appeals.
  7. For more information on Utah’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State’s Website https://jobs.utah.gov/ui/ContinuedClaims/UIAccountHome.aspxClaimant handbook http://jobs.utah.gov/ui/Jobseeker/ClaimantGuide.pdf


Vermont

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Vermont?Your initial application must be done over the phone. You will be able to file weekly online.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount is based on gross wages paid to you as reported by your former, liable employer(s), and will be calculated by adding the wages in the 2 highest quarters of your base period, dividing by 45, and rounding to the next whole dollar.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?You may be eligible for a maximum benefit amount equal to 26 weeks times your weekly benefit amount or 46% of your base period wages, whichever is less. Being fired for misconduct will lead to a cap on the maximum number of weeks to be claimed in a benefit year, not to exceed 23 full weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must file weekly claims, be able to work, and available for work. Vermont requires that you contact 3 employers each week to be actively seeking work. You must keep a record of your work search contact, and forms to help you do this can be found in the Claimant Handbook. You must accept suitable work, and report any wages made.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?All appeals must be submitted in writing by mail, by email, by fax, or in person. Appeals must be submitted no later than 30 days from the date of the decision. Also, you must continue to file for weekly benefits, as you will only be paid benefits for the weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Vermont’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Vermont Website http://labor.vermont.gov/Unemployed/tabid/109/Default.aspxRead the Claimant Handbook http://labor.vermont.gov/Portals/0/UI/B-11%20Claimant%20Handbook.pdf


Virginia

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Virginia?You can apply online at http://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed/online-services/apply-for-unemployment-benefits or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Based on the wages earned during the regular base period, this determination will indicate the benefit amount you qualify for each week.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?Based on the wages earned during the regular base period, this determination will indicate the number of weeks you may receive benefits, ranging from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must file weekly claims (the first of which must be filed 28 days from your initial claim), and actively seek work. Virginia requires that you contact several employers each week to be actively seeking work. You must keep a record of your work search contacts for one year for auditing purposes. You must accept suitable work, and report any wages made.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?All appeals must be filed within 30 days of the date the determination was mailed to you, unless the appeal period is extended. This determination will contain the final date on which an appeal can be filed. All appeals must be in writing, and they can be filed in person, by mail, by fax or online at http://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed/appeals/file. Also, you must continue to file for weekly benefits, as you will only be paid benefits for the weeks you filed if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Virginia’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Virginia State Website http://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed/resources/im-unemployed-now-whatRead the Claimant Handbook http://www.vec.virginia.gov/vecportal/unins/pdf/bri.pdf


Washington

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits, or alternatively the last 4 quarters). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Washington?You can apply online at https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/webic/intropage.aspx?Lang=en-us, or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount of unemployment benefits varies. It is dependent on how much you have earned in your base period. In Washington State, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $583. The minimum is $138. No one who is eligible for benefits will receive less than this, regardless of his or her earnings. Visit the State’s website at http://www.esd.wa.gov/uibenefits/benefitcheck/how-much.php for more information.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file each week, and you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must be actively seeking employment, while keeping a record of your work search contacts. To be actively seeking employment, each week you file for benefits, you must make at least 3 employer contacts each week, participate in three in-person job search activities at a local facility, or have a total of 3 employer contacts and in-person activities. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must file an appeal within 30 days of the date the decision was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing, and may be submitted by mail or by fax. Also, you must also continue to file weekly during your appeal, as you will only be paid for those weeks you continued to file if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Washington’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Washington Website http://www.esd.wa.gov/uibenefits/Read the Claimant handbook http://www.esd.wa.gov/newsandinformation/rulemaking/handbook/index.php


West Virginia

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in West Virginia?Report in person to the nearest unemployment claims office as soon as possible after you lose your job. If you receive a low earnings report from your employer, you may file in person or by mail. If you fail to file promptly, you may lose credit for any weeks you were off work before you do file. For a list of offices, Visit the State’s website at http://www.wvcommerce.org/business/workforcewv/unemployment_compensation/locations/default.aspx.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount of unemployment benefits varies. It is dependent on how much you have earned in your base period. The minimum weekly benefit rate is $24.00 and maximum benefit rate is $424.00. Visit the West Virginia State website for more information.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must register with the Workforce West Virginia Employment Service, be available and able for work, and actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. You will have to file for benefits weekly, either by telephone or online (www.wvuc.org). These are the fastest and most efficient ways to file, but you may file in person.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?You must file your appeal within 8 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed. You may file an appeal on a regular form that is available in your local office, or you may write a letter to your local office. Also, you must also continue to file weekly during your appeal, as you will only be paid for those weeks you continued to file if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on West Virginia’s unemployment insurance lawsClick here http://www.wvcommerce.org/App_Media/assets/html/unemployment-compensation-claimants.html


Wisconsin

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Wisconsin?You can apply online at https://ucclaim-wi.org/InternetInitialClaims/default.asp or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?Your weekly benefit amount will be 4% of the total high quarter wages from all covered employment.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but not more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work, and you must be actively seeking employment. To be actively seeking employment, you must contact 2 employers each week to try to find work. You can receive benefits for each eligible week that you claim until your return to work, your benefits are exhausted, or you have reached the end of your benefit year. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?When you receive the determination from the Department, it will indicate at the bottom the date by which an appeal must be received or postmarked in order to be considered timely. The appeal must be in writing and must be mailed, hand-delivered, or faxed to a hearing office or unemployment insurance office. You may also appeal online http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uibola/onlineappeal.htm. Also, you must also continue to file weekly during your appeal, as you will only be paid for those weeks you continued to file if you win your appeal.
  7. For more information on Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the Wisconsin State Website http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/ui/Read the Claimant Handbook: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook/


Wyoming

  1. Am I eligible to receive benefits?You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own, and you must have earned sufficient wages in your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits). Also, you must be able and available for full-time work.
  2. How do I apply for benefits in Wyoming?You can apply online at https://doe.state.wy.us/InetClaims/ or over the phone.
  3. How much will I receive?The amount of unemployment benefits varies. It is dependent on how much you have earned in your base period. The maximum weekly benefit amount from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 is $444. The minimum weekly benefit for this same time period is $32. These numbers can change each year; they are determined by a formula in the Wyoming statutes. The formula is based on the average weekly wage in Wyoming and is recalculated each year.
  4. How long will I receive these benefits?The length of time that you will receive benefits is also based on how much you made during the base period, but it will not last more than 26 weeks.
  5. After I start receiving benefits, what do I have to do to remain eligible?You must continue to file weekly. Also, you must continue to be able and available for full-time work. You must actively seek employment, while keeping a record of your work search activities. To be actively seeking work, you must contact at least 2 employers each week you file for benefits. Finally, you must accept suitable work.
  6. I was turned down for benefits. How do I appeal this decision?Your appeal must be filed within 15 days of the date the determination notice was mailed to you. Your appeal must be in writing, requesting a hearing. If a hearing is held, you will need to participate by phone or in-person. The hearing will give you and other interested parties the opportunity to present testimony. The hearing officer will issue a written decision. Also, you must continue to file your claim while the decision is under appeal. If you win your appeal, you can only be paid for weeks you filed a claim.
  7. For more information on Wyoming’s unemployment insurance laws:Visit the State of Wyoming Website: http://wyomingworkforce.org/job-seekers-and-workers/unemployment-insurance/Pages/default.aspxRead the Claimant Handbook: http://wyomingworkforce.org/Documents/UI/claimant_guidebook.pdf