For most of us, the thought of being laid off or fired is a scary prospect, and a calamity many of us will face at least once in our lives. In Pennsylvania, the pain may be eased by the Pennsylvania Unemployment Act that provides weekly benefits based upon the length of time that you have been working and the amount that has been paid into the Unemployment Compensation System on your behalf. The attorneys of Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. can help employees recover the benefits that are due to them.
In an ideal world, every employee who was laid off or fired would receive unemployment compensation benefits. The law provides, however, that the benefit is payable only if certain conditions are met. Simply stated, the claimant must be out of work through no fault of her own, or through fault which does not amount to "willful misconduct."
When a claim is made and benefits are denied, the employee has the right to demand a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, who will decide whether the employee is entitled to U.C. benefits under the facts of the case and under Pennsylvania law.
Sometimes, the employer terminates the employment. In other cases, the employee leaves of her own volition, that is, she quits.
Not every termination initiated by the employer gives rise to the right to benefits. Usually a dismissal for lack of work does not bar a person from getting her benefits, but if the dismissal is for cause amounting to willful misconduct, such as failure to follow work rules, or theft, the employer is able to raise the employee's fault as a defense to defeat the workerís claim. Repeated warnings to an employee or other disciplinary action, especially those that are well documented, may be used by the employer to deny benefits.
If the employee voluntarily quits his job, he has created a defense that can be easily used by the employer to deny benefits. There is a major exception in the case of an employee leaving the job for a "necessitous and compelling" reason. For instance, a substance may be present in the workplace that causes a severe allergic reaction making it impossible for the employee to continue working, and the employer is unable to remedy the situation after the employee requests accomodation. Perhaps the employer has changed working hours so the employee either lacks adequate transportation, or is not able to meet family responsibility such as taking care of a young child. These reasons might be construed as necessitous and compelling, and benefits could be granted.
The issues relating to a workerís entitlement to unemployment benefits can be quite complex, and often the Job Service makes an incorrect initial decision based just on the employer's word. Both the employee and the employer have the right to file an appeal to an Unemployment Compensation Referee - a different person from the one who made the initial decision. The Referee will hold a hearing and review the testimony of the parties and any other evidence, and then render a decision. It is essentially a trial.
The attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. are thoroughly familiar with the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Act, and we are available to help with filing the appeal and representing your interests at any hearing. We look forward to hearing from you. Please contact us today.
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