Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Do I Appeal Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania Attorney John A. Gallagher, Esquire Specializes in Unemployment Appeal Hearings in Philadelphia Area

We have handled many Unemployment Hearings before Referees in Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Berks County, Lancaster County, Bucks County and Philadelphia County.

We know that you have lost your job, and we understand how important these benefits are to you.

Benefits Critical in Your Time of Need

Ordinarily, Pennsylvania unemployment benefits will be immediately be provided to you if, in your initial application to unemployment, you indicate that you were "laid off" or were the victim of a "reduction in force."

To the uninitiated, "laid off" sometimes means "terminated from employment without being given a satisfactory explanation as to why I was terminated." In many cases that we are seeing, people are saying they were "laid off" because they disagree with or do not fully understand the employer's reason for firing them. Since they are representing to Unemployment that they are laid off, they are immediately paid benefits.

When a claim is submitted via Pennsylvania's on-line application for unemployment compensation, it is critically important to understand the difference between a quit, a lay-off and a termination.

Submitting the Claimant's Application on Line - Quit, Termination, Lay-Off or Reduction in Force?

Make Sure You Complete the Application Accurately
However, what many people do not know when they submit that initial application, is that even after benefits have been paid to the terminated employee, the Unemployment Service Center is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the end of the employment by asking the employer to provide information on that issue.

Click Here for our most comprehensive and up-to-date Post concerning the issues to be considered when applying for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Benefits.

Not Always Clear if it was
a Quit or a Fire
In many cases, employers are very concerned with paying unemployment, and they will make every effort to stop the payment of benefits by stating, either truthfully or falsely, the reasons for the termination. In other cases, your ex-employer will tell unemployment that you quit your job, even where that is not exactly true.

If the employer tells unemployment that you were terminated for willful misconduct or that you quit your job, the Service Center will send a questionnaire to you and your employer asking for written statements as to why the employment ended.  These questionnaires is not a model of clarity, so you need to take care when responding

Having received answers to from you and your former employer, the Service Center issues a Notice of Determination either granting or denying the benefits.  If your claim is denied, you are permitted 15 days - and ONLY 15 days - to file an Appeal, in which case the matter will be scheduled for a Referee Hearing.

You MUST Appeal Within 15 Days

If you received a Notice of Determination ("NOD") denying you unemployment compensation, you should immediately appeal the denial (you have only 15 days to do so).  If your appeal is late, game over.  Late appeals are almost never permitted.

15 Days to Appeal!!
If the NOD is in your favor, the employer has the same 15 days to appeal.  However, you usually won't know whether the employer appealed until you receive a Notice of Hearing....

When you file  an appeal from an NOD, you need not say much. In fact, we tell our clients to simply state that "I disagree with the Determination."


If either you or the employer appeals the NOD, an Unemployment Hearing will be scheduled before a Referee (this Hearing usually takes place within 30 days of the appeal being filed).  At that Unemployment Hearing, an Unemployment Referee will decide whether the employee has engaged in willful misconduct or, where a voluntary quit is involved, whether the quit was justified.

If the employee loses that hearing, then the Referee may also decide whether the employee was untruthful in his or her initial application. If so, it will be deemed an "at-fault overpayment" (in which case you will have to pay back the benefits you received immediately and penalties may be imposed) or whether it was a "non at-fault overpayment" (in which case you only have to pay back the benefits if, during the next three years, you apply for unemployment again).


Overpayments occur when, after you were initially granted benefits, the Service Center later determines that you are, in fact, ineligible for benefits.  If, after benefits were initially granted, they are later denies, then Unemployment asks the employee to pay back the benefits that he or she has received prior to the determination.

If the Service Center deems that you were honest when you completed your initial application for benefits, then it will be deemed a "non at-fault overpayment."  This usually occurs when you received benefits because your employer did not initially respond to the Service Center's request for information.

However, if Unemployment believes that the employee lied during their initial application (i.e where an employee stated he/she was "laid off" when in fact they knew they were fired for excessive absenteeism, or when they state they were fired even though they actually quit), it is deemed an "at fault overpayment," and penalties may be imposed.


Another less common area of dispute centers on whether the terminated employee was in fact a w-2 Employee versus a 1099 Independent Contractor (the independent contractor issue comes up much more frequently with post-unemployment job opportunities.  Click Here for more on Independent Contractor cases in general).

Misclassification Common,
and Usually Result of Company's Intentional Effort
to Dodge Payment of Taxes and Benefits
Where your employment status is at issue, you and the company in question will receive an Independent Contractor Questionnaire, which can also be referred to as a Self-Employment Questionnaire.  These are also quite tricky. 

Once you and the company submit answers to the Questionnaire, the Service Center will issue a Notice of Determination announcing its findings as to whether you were an employee or an independent contractor.

If the NOD is against you, then you have 15 days to appeal, which will lead a to a Referee Hearing.

Similarly, Independent Contractor disputes are decided by Referees at Unemployment Hearings.

Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991
Philadelphia Area Unemployment Attorney Representing Employees

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations (15 Minutes in Duration)

If you are looking for an unemployment lawyer, and live in Malvern, Wayne, King of Prussia, Downingtown, Glenside, Doylestown, Radnor, Newtown Square, Exton, Philadelphia, West Chester, Skippack, Langhorne, Haverford, Nether Providence, Broomall, Drexel Hill, Reading or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Experienced Lawyer for an Unemployment Hearing Before a Referee In Malvern, King of Prussia, Springfield, Bristol, Reading, Lancaster or Philadelphia?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Click Here to e-mail John directly; Mr. Gallagher has handled hundreds of Referee Hearings throughout Pennsylvania.

Thanks for checking in with us.


Anonymous said...

I was laid off and eligible for UC benefits. I then took a contract position for 3 months which paid half the hourly rate that I previously had, but allowed me to work up to 40 hours per week. I opted to work only 20 hours because if I accepted 40 hours, then I would have to pay back student loans - I can't afford both the loans and my monthly bills at that 50% pay rate. Am I required to accept 40 hours per week or was I within my rights to decline a 40 hour week if it would throw me into severe debt (I'd literally loose my home in a short period of time).

John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer said...

That is a very good question - first off, I assume that you have reported all of your income. I guess the question I need to know is: whether you have a hearing coming up on the issue you raise? If not, then the best I can say is that you have to provide unemployment with truthful and complete information concerning your job search, etc. If you do have a hearing, and you have reported accurate information to unemployment, I think you can win the issue, but it may prove to be a somewhat tricky case....

Unknown said...

can an employers lawyer file the appeal or does it have to be the actual employer?

employment lawyer Chicago said...

Good post about how a person can apply for unemployment. Which is monster topic for people who are looking for job.

John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer said...

I know it is! And Unemployment thinks everyone knows about all of these intricasies and they are harsh on people who make innocent mistakes, so: Thank You!

Anonymous said...

was terminated for forging a signature of a customer that i serviced(customer confered that i serviced)customer was not available when i was there..there was no malicious intent here as i did my job but could not find someone to sign..was denied unemployment for wilful misconduct..do i have a case if i appeal

John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer said...

I do not provide specific advice on this Blog. Generally, though, it will be a close case - you may win, but you will need to have the customer there to support your account of what happened or you will likely not win. Some other complexities here, but having customer at Hearing supporting your version will cover most of the important issues.

Anonymous said...

employer called customer and customer verified service and this was in the notes to unemplyment

Anonymous said...

employer called customer and customer told them i was there.this is in the notes employer sent to unemployment

Anonymous said...

I left a job because I was moving to a new location where I was led to believe that I had a job. When I left my previous employer and moved to the new location I worked one day and was not given a schedule for work, nor was I notified that the employer did not want me working. So I applied for unemployment and was denied and filed the appeal and now have to present information. I have the employee handbook with my notes that I took during the walk-through and I also have a witnesses that saw me working. I guess my question is: do I have a shot at getting the unemployment? I am still applying everywhere and checking monster daily to check for job openings. Thanks

Anonymous said...

?I filed for unemployment. The labor industry sent all paperwork to jersey, where my sis in law moved to, and checked whole family at post offics, while changing her address, a short time before this incident. She faxed the paperwork over which stated I will get $573 a week. I wait 4 weeks( was told by friends unemp hold ur first check) to get paid which I eventually did (somewhere a lil more than a thousand). I wait another 2 weeks and I notice i did not get paid when I should have. I call up unemployment, and they tell me im not elligible. I am financially but due to me getting fired in manner I was fired in or something like that, I was deemed inelligible. I explained to this man, that I already received payment. He told me I got paid by accident, and I should have been sent out a paper dismissing my benefits, which I told him I never got it. Maybe my sis in law got it and never faxed it over which she says no. I am wondering, because by no fault of my own, my appeal was late, do you think I will be okay at this unemp hearing which is later on this week

jmoms1830 said...

After a new manager was hired, the company's first and only, I felt I was being phased out, however still reported to work on time and with same performance efforts. I called out on a Wed. morning because my mother was sick and unable to honor our predetermined plans to watch my children. I sent a text message to my owner, the person I had reported to for the past year and by the same means I had reported off six months prior. My employer has denied my benefits under section 401(e) I believe stating I failed to report off in proper manner according to company policy which allegedly is to "call the manager on duty before the start of shift" First- I never was given an employee handbook, although as a manager myself, I was required to give to new hires with a return signature stating they had received and read their policies. I was unaware of such a policy My owner said when I was hired I didn't need to sign anything but my W-2 Next-I had reported off in the same manner before and it was not an issue, never was discussed or treated in any way with any type of disciplinary action. Although I was told, in writing, before the appeal that I was being fired for a different reason, when I applied for unemployment my employer listed this new reason as terms for the denial. Do I have a case here? I can't see why I would be denied at this hearing, it almost seems a waste of time.

John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer said...

Dear Anonymous:

If you can prove that you texted that you would be out, and that you had done the same thing in the past without a problem, you should be able to win the heariung before the referee. Appeal and win that hearing (call me if you want to be represented at the hearing).

John A. Gallagher

Anonymous said...

I was laid off from my full time job last Aug. At that point I signed up for unemployment. I have had a side photography business since 2007 and when I was laid off I decided to try and work more on my business to see if I could turn it into my full time job. This obviously takes time and can't happen over night. This business is hardly a source of income and has only brought in about $1000 a year. I was always up front about my business with unemployment and for the first 6 months it didn't seem to be a problem. Any money I earned from my business I claimed. After my first 6 months I thought that unemployment was going to be over for me but then I was sent an application for emergency unemployment. I figured what could I lose so I filled it out and sent it in. Still being completely up front about my business. I was accepted and started receiving EUC. On Sept. 4th my claim ended as it had been a year since I first signed up for UC benifits. A woman contacted me about my UC benifits and asked if I was searching for work other then my business at this time and I said that I was not. She told me that I would then not be able to reapply for UC benifits which is fine, but about 2 days after that phone conversation I received in the mail a letter saying I owe back $2400 because I was given EUC benifits that I wasn't entitled to since I am self employed... If this is true then why was I accepted to receive EUC benifits in the first place? I don't feel as though I should have to pay this back as I have never hidden the fact that I have a business and was accepted to receive this extra money. What are my options?

Anonymous said...

I left a job that was a completely hostile work environment. About a week and a half later, I got a phone call from the UE office asking me some questions. After another 2 weeks, I got the determination letter stating that i was denied for reasons that the company completely lied about. It was a year ago or so, but the question is still valid: There was video of what actually happened. Can I use this to go after the company?

curious123 said...

I am currently in the middle of appealing a decision ruled against me with unemployment. Bottom line, employer says I quit, when in fact I asked for some personal time and was given permission to open an unemployment claim. Altho, all of this is difficult to prove. My question is, I lost the first appeal. The letter they sent to me to appeal the appeal, was sent on 11/2 giving me 15 days to respond. I am a truck driver and am unable to check my mail often since I am on the road. I filed the appeal, but was late. I've since submitted a letter to request they give me an exception for the late filing. What are the chances that would be approved by them?

curious123 said...

What are the chances of winning a late appeal? The reason is I'm a truck driver, over the road, I'm not home often to check my mail and was late filing the appeal until I received it.

Unknown said...

I was fired because of my tardiness from my job we have a point system will i be able to fight my appeal

Unknown said...

I was fired because of my tardiness from my job we have a point system will i be able to fight my appeal