Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Philadelphia Area Lawyer's Quick Answers to the Most Common Pennsylvania Unemployment Questions

Live in Paoli, Malvern, Frazer, Exton, West Chester, Downingtown, Phoenixville, Norristown, King of Prussia, Oaks, Pottstown, Plymouth Meeting, Blue Bell, Lansdale, Chalfont, Doylestown, Media, Springfield, Broomall, Newtown Square, Radnor, Wayne, Devon, Reading, Lancaster or Philadelphia and Need a Lawyer Who Handles Unemployment Referee Hearings?

Before we get started with the Q & A, you may want to view my June 2014 Video explaining what "Willful Misconduct" means, and what happens at an Unemployment Hearing where that is the issue:

NOTE  This is a very detailed Post, so you may want to use the Print button (upper right of Blog) and read at your leisure.

Pennsylvania Attorney John Gallagher's Best Answers to Your Top Unemployment Law Questions

Based upon my experience, here are the most common Questions I get about Pennsylvania unemployment benefits, and some (hopefully clear) Answers (click on any Links to jump):

1)  If I am About to get Fired and I Quit my Job Instead, is that Considered a Resignation or a Termination for Purposes of Unemployment in Pennsylvania? 

Unless Your Termination is IMMINENT,
Quitting Can Make Winning Benefits Difficult

Reason Question is Important:   It is much easier to win benefits when you have been fired than it is when you have quit.

Quick Answer:  A "quit" will be deemed a "fire" only if you are told that you will be fired immediately unless you resign first.


If you are told that if you do not resign immediately then you are going to be fired that day, then your resignation will, for unemployment purposes, be deemed a termination (and not a quit). That is a good thing.

If you are told that it is extremely likely that you are going to be fired at some point in the very near future, and are then given a chance to resign either immediately, or after you think it over for a day or two, then your resignation will, for unemployment purposes, be deemed a quit. That is a bad thing.

Suggestion:  Unless you are certain that you can prove that your resignation was submitted in lieu of a certain and immediate termination, hang in there and let them fire you.

More Quit Questions?  Check Out John's Comprehensive Video Discussing Many Common Quit Scenarios and How They Impact on Your Right to Unemployment Benefits

2)  If I take a job as an independent contractor while on Pennsylvania Unemployment, do I have to report that I have taken the job to unemployment even if I have not been paid yet?

Quick Answer:  Yes.  On the bi-weekly application you are asked if you have "worked" in the past two weeks.  "Work" means doing something with an expectation of payment, or at least a hope of payment (if you take a sales job).  "Work" does NOT mean doing and something and getting paid.  Also, if you are working as an independent contractor (i.e. getting paid on a 1099 basis as opposed to a W-2 basis), you are employed, you are working.  Click Here to read the "legal test" utilized to determine if you are in fact an independent contractor under section 402(h) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment law.

2A)  If I am working part-time as an independent contractor in Pennsylvania, will my unemployment benefits be cut off? 

Quick Answer:  Yes, if Pennsylvania Unemployment finds out through your self-reporting or otherwise that you are working as an independent contractor while receiving benefits, you will immediately be cut off from receiving benefits even if you are only working part-time hours.  That is because independent contractors are deemed to be self-employed, and people that are self-employed are deemed to be running their own business on a full-time basis, and are therefore deemed to be longer available for work, and therefore are disqualified from receiving benefits.

You may want to read the above paragraph twice; this issue causes a lot of problems for many people.  The reasons for this rule are complicated.  However, what you need to know is: Unemployment uses this rule all of the time to disqualify people from receiving benefits.

And, if you received benefits while working on a 1099 basis and Unemployment finds out about it after the fact, you will be hit with an overpayment, and that can be very bad.

IC or Employee?
3)  If I take a job as an independent contractor while on Pennsylvania Unemployment and report that employment to Unemployment, will my benefits stop?

Quick Answer:  In all likelihood, yes. Then you will have to file an appeal and you will get a Hearing before an Unemployment Referee.  At that hearing, your benefits will be reinstated if you can prove that you are in fact an employee.  In other words, the mere fact that you are designated as an independent contractor does not make it so.  We win many Unemployment Hearings wherein we prove that our client in fact was was misclassified as an independent contractor, and is therefore entitled to continuing benefits or not liable for an overpayment.

4)  If I sign a contract saying I am an independent contractor, does that mean Pennsylvania Unemployment will automatically determine that I am an independent contractor?

Quick Answer:  The Pennsylvania Service Center will usually find that you are an independent contractor if you signed a contract saying as much.  However, we win many, many cases before Unemployment Referees holding that people are not independent contractors even though they signed a contract saying that they were.  As I say, you can call a Chevy a Mercedes, but it's still a Chevy.

5)  If I am fired for poor performance, will I be able to collect unemployment in Pennsylvania?

Quick Answer:  Yes.  Poor performance is not willful misconduct under section 402(e) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment law.  Be careful, however.  Employers know this and often try to fabricate reasons for your termination at the Unemployment Hearing in order to try and convince the Referee that you were fired for willful misconduct.

6)  What Happens at a Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing Before Referee?

Quick Answer:  Usually, they take place in a 15 x 15 room.  You (and your witnesses and counsel) on one side of the table, the employer (and its witnesses and counsel on the other side).  The Referee sits at the head of the table.  Everyone is sworn in.  Exhibits found within the unemployment file are marked as evidence, and each side gets a chance to object to any exhibit.  If the issue is willful misconduct, the employer provides testimony and evidence first as to why you were fired.  You get to object to any exhibits and testimony, and then cross-examine the other side.  Then it is your turn to testify, introduce exhibits and be subject to cross-examination. Closing arguments are held, and case is closed.  Decision usually follows within 1-4 weeks (no precise timetable exists).  Click Here for a more complete discussion of how to prepare for an Unemployment Hearing.

7) Why Do Employers Fight Unemployment Claims in PA?
It's all about the Benjamins
Quick Answer:  Primarily, to save money.  Large employers (say,with more than 100,000 employees) have to pay your claim directly out of their pocket.  So, if you are getting $573 per week in unemployment, it comes directly out of the funds of a large company.  Smaller companies have to pay an unemployment tax every time they make payroll.  When someone is successful in obtaining unemployment benefits, the amount taxed goes up.  The tax is not small, either.  A company with 5 or 6 employees who has had 2 employees obtain unemployment benefits over the past year or so may pay hundreds of dollars per month in unemployment taxes. 

If it ended like this, they may fight
your claim
Secondarily, companies often fight unemployment because they are mad at the employee, and angry people will fight hard for a "cause" they believe in.  Either way, you need to be prepared for a fierce (and sometimes dishonest) defense from your former employer in any Unemployment Hearing,

8)  How Long Does it Take to Get Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits?

Quick Answer:  Anywhere from 2 weeks (if you have been laid off or are subject to a reduction in force) to 45 days or more (if you quit or were fired).  The Unemployment Compensation Service Center is not subject to any time limits; there is no law or regulation that requires them to decide your claim within any specific time frame.

9)  I Received a Notice of Financial Determination from Pennsylvania Unemployment, Does That Mean I Have Been Approved for Benefits?

Quick Answer:  No.  EVERYONE who files for unemployment automatically gets a Notice of Financial Determination, no matter why their employment ended.  All that this form does is tell you how much in benefits you will receive if you actually do qualify for unemployment.

10)  I am Receiving Unemployment Benefits from Pennsylvania, Does That Mean My Claim Has Been Approved?

Quick Answer:  Not necessarily.  Sometimes benefits are granted, and that decision is later changed or reversed.  Here are some of the common reasons it happens:

a)  you state that you were laid off, let go for lack of work or victim of a reduction in force.  When you do this, benefits are paid immediately.  However, as discussed below, if the employer disagrees with why you said you were let go, you may later see your benefits stopped, or may be required to go to a Hearing before an Unemployment Referee to keep them; or,

b) the employer failed to initially respond to request for unemployment for information.  In these type cases, you apply and say, for example, that you were let go for poor performance.  As discussed below, the employer is contacted by the Unemployment Service Center and asked to confirm or deny the facts you stated in your application.  The employer initially fails to respond, so benefits are then issued to you.  However, there is no hard and fast deadline for an employer response.  That is why, sometimes months later, when you think you are "in the clear" you get a Notice of Determination either granting or denying you benefits.  Sometimes, if the NOD is against you, your benefits will stop. 

The Notice of Determination is the key document in any unemployment dispute. 

No matter what, either you or the employer have 15 days to appeal from the NOD, and you may still have to win at a Hearing  before an Unemployment Referee in order to get your benefits reinstated (if they suddenly stop) or to have them continued.  If you or the employer miss that 15 day deadline, the determination of the Service Center found within the Notice of Determination is the final word on the issue.  Late appeals are almost never allowed.  If an appeal resulting in a Hearing before a Referee is filed, the the decision of the Service Center found within the Notice of Determination loses all of its relevance and effect.

11)  How Does the Pennsylvania Unemployment Service Center Decide if I Get  Benefits?

Quick Answer:  Upon your application, the Service Center notifies your employer that you have filed a claim, and advises the employer as to what you said was the reason for your separation from employment on your application (i.e. lay off, reduction in force, termination, quit, etc.)  If you stated your were laid off or subject to a reduction in force, then you will get benefits without delay virtually as soon as you apply.  [CAUTION:  That does not mean your claim cannot later be denied!!! See below]  If you said you quit or were terminated, you will likely not receive any benefits until the Service Center has finished its investigation, and only if it rules in your favor.

CAUTION:  Many folks who are worried about their finances state in their application that they were laid off or let go for lack of work, when in fact they were terminated or quit.  They then cross their fingers and hope that Unemployment won't investigate their application or that their former employer won't "fight their claim" This is a bad idea.  Unemployment investigates every claim, and employers almost always state the reasons for the separation in response.  Misstating why you are no longer employed on your application can lead to serious problems. I strongly urge against it.

Click Here to read more on the Pennsylvania Unemployment Application process. 

If, after having been advised by the Service Center that you have filed for unemployment, the employer reports back to Unemployment that you were laid off, let go for lack of work or victim of a reduction in force, you will hear nothing further from the Service Center and your benefits will be paid.  If, however, the employer disputes the reason you gave for your separation, or if it asserts that you were fired because you did something bad (willful misconduct) or quit without good reason, the Service Center typically engages in a further investigation.  This investigation typically consists of sending out a  "Claimant Questionnaire" and an "Employer Questionnaire."  Once this is done, the Service Center  issues a "Notice of Determination" setting forth their findings.

So, the possibilities look something like this:

a.  You state you were laid off, let go for lack of work or victim of a reduction in force; benefits will be paid immediately to you but,  if after the Service Center investigates your claim, it determines that you quit without good reason or were fired for willful misconduct, your benefits will be stopped and you will have to win them back at a Referee Hearing.  You may be liable for an overpayment, with penalty, if you lose the Hearing and it is determined you lied on your initial application.  If you win the Hearing, all is well;

b.  You state you quit, but for good reason.  You will not receive any benefits unless and until the Service Center determines whether your reason was good enough under the law to make you eligible for benefits.  If the Notice of Determination ("NOD") is in your favor, you will be awarded benefits and keep them unless the employer appeals, and you later lose at the Referee Hearing.  If the NOD  is against you, then you must appeal and win the Referee Hearing to get benefits, which will be awarded retroactively if you win (Oh, happy day!).

c.  You state you were terminated, and explain why.  You will not receive any benefits unless and until the Service Center determines whether or not you engaged in willful misconduct. If the Notice of Determination ("NOD") is in your favor, you will be awarded benefits and keep them unless the employer appeals, and you later lose at the Referee Hearing. If the NOD is against you, then you must appeal and win the Referee Hearing to get benefits, which will be awarded retroactively if you win.

12)  How Do I Know if My Employer Has Appealed the Notice of Determination I Received from Pennsylvania Unemployment Service Center?

Quick Answer:  So, now you have received a Notice of Determination stating that the Service Center has found in your favor, and you are entitled to benefits.  The NOD provides the employer 15 days to appeal (which will lead to a Hearing before an Unemployment Referee).  If the employer does appeal, you will not receive any notice of the appeal from Unemployment (odd, I know).  Rather, the first notification you will get of the employer's appeal is a Notice of Hearing.  In most cases, the Notice of Hearing is sent out within 2-3 weeks of the employer's appeal.  So, if you receive a NOD in your favor, you will not know you are "safe" until at least 30 days after you receive the NOD. 

13)  What Should I Say When I Appeal From a Notice of Determination from the PA Unemployment Service Center?

Quick Answer:  So, the Service Center has determined that you are ineligible for benefits.  You have 15 days to appeal (and thus get a Hearing before an Unemployment Referee).  What should you say?  As little as possible.  You do not need to prove anything or say anything in order to get a Hearing.  The more you say, the more that can be used against you at the Hearing.  So, simply say, "I disagree with the determination."  That is all you need to say, and all you should say.

14)  Why Am I Being Accused of an Overpayment by Pennsylvania Unemployment?

Quick Answer:  Overpayments come about when it is believed that you have received benefits to which you were not entitled.  This happens in one of 2 typical situations: 

Scenario 1:  you were paid benefits which the Service Center later determined you should not have been paid.

Scenario 2:  while receiving benefits to which you were entitled, you failed to report earnings from another job (usually, a part-time job or independent contractor position).

In Scenario 1, a "non-at fault overpayment" comes about when you received benefits through no fault of your own due to a delay by the Service Center in deciding you are not entitled to benefits.  See Number 10, above. 

In Scenario 1, an "at fault" overpayment comes about when you received benefits because Unemployment believes you have lied on your initial application (for example, you said that you had been laid off, but your employer states that you were fired for willful misconduct).

In Scenario Two, you either fail to report earnings from a part-time job (whether as a W-2 employee or as a 1099 independent contractor). Another possibility is that you told Unemployment about the part-time employment, but did not tell them you were being paid as an independent contractor.  In either situation, when they find out, they conclude that you lied, and say you received benefits under false pretenses this then leads to an "at fault overpayment" determination.

15)  How Do I Win an Appeal of an Overpayment Determination?

Quick Answer:  If you are told that you have received an overpayment, you appeal ("I disagree with the determination"), and then you get a Hearing before a Unemployment Referee.  Win the underlying issue (i.e. prove you were not fired for cause, prove you were in fact an employee and not an independent contractor, etc.), and the determination that you were overpaid will be reversed.  So, in many cases we have handled, an employee who was once getting benefits has been cut off, and told they have to repay everything they have received in the past.  When we win, we not only have the benefits reinstated, but the overpayment determination is reversed as well.  Those are sweet victories!

16)  Can I Get Unemployment if I Choose Early Retirement in Lieu of Termination?

Quick Answer:  No.  If you are retired, you have taken yourself out of the workplace and cannot receive unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania.  Unemployment only pays benefits to those persons who are out of work through no fault of their own, and who are actively seeking work.  If you are forced to retire, you satisfy the first prong of the equation, but not the second.  Unless there are substantial benefits to early retirement, you should just let them fire you instead of electing to take unemployment.  Then, it will be up to you to advise unemployment if you are retired or actively looking for work.

Another thing to bear in mind:  If you elect early retirement, you may be forfeiting your right to make a claim for age discrimination!

17)  Can I Conduct "Discovery" Prior to My Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing?

Quick Answer:  Yes, on a rather limited basis.

Discovery is the process of learning about the other side's case prior to a Hearing.  Typically, there is little opportunity to conduct discovery before an Unemployment Hearing.  Here is what you can do:  Typically, your file is delivered to the place where your Unemployment Hearing is going to be conducted within a week of the Hearing.  You may go to the Hearing location at any time, present your Notice of Hearing, and obtain a copy of the file for your review.  You may not copy any documents in the file, but you may review and take notes of what is in there. 

What to look for? The Employer's Questionnaire, which will include answers provided by your former employer to the Service Center that will detail your employer's position on your case.  The file may also include documents that your former employer submitted to the Service Center to "prove" its case.

You may ask to have the Referee that will preside at your Hearing issue a subpoena to any witnesses or document that you believe would help your case.  I have found, more often than not, these requests are rejected (thus providing a possible avenue of appeal).  In any event, subpoenas to your former co-workers are typically not going to be helpful - your former co-worker is still employed, and is likely to be hesitant when asked to provide testimony that is against their employer's interest.

18)  What Do I Need to Do If I Have a Telephone Hearing in a Pennsylvania Unemployment Case? 

Tele-Hearings - Potentially
Very Tricky
Quick Answer:  Submit all documents that you want introduced at the Hearing to the Referee within 5 days of the Hearing.  Otherwise, you will not be allowed to introduce or even discuss those documents at the Hearing.  This is true even where your former employer is appearing telephonically, and you in person (or vice versa). 

Problem:  Often, employees do not receive a Notice of Hearing until 7-10 days before the Hearing.  This leaves scant time to figure out what documents you want introduced, and then to collect them and get them to the Referee.

Solution:  If you have gotten barely enough notice, and cannot get the documents to the Referee in time, ask for a continuance so that you may have an opportunity to do so.  It really stinks to be hamstrung at a case when you have critical documents in your possession that you cannot introduce because you did not act "quickly enough."

NOTE:  As of June 17, 2011, anyone can request a telephone hearing irrespective of where they are located.  In my view, that means that telephone hearings are going to become very commonplace, and will likely be the norm one day.  Telephone hearings are very tricky, so you need to really understand the appropriate strategy to employ when you are going to participate in such a hearing.  Click Here for more information on strategies for telephone hearings. 

19)  I Ran My Own Business for 5 Years and it Failed Despite My Best Efforts - Can I Collect Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

If You Were Self-Employed - You Can't Get
UC Benefits No Matter What
Quick Answer:  No. I am not entirely clear on why this is the law.  However, it is the law, and there is generally no way around it.  If you are either a business owner of, or a controlling principal in, a business that fails, you may not collect Unemployment Benefits Pennsylvania.  However, there are situations wherein the mere ownership of a business is not disqualifying if, for example, you owned the business during the entire time that you were employed by a company that terminated your employment, which termination prompted your application for benefits.  Click Here to read more about that.

20)  I Worked as an Independent Contractor for Years and Now I Have Been Let Go - May I Collect Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits?

Quick Answer:  No.  If you were truly an independent contractor and you lose your employment for any reason (contract expires or is terminated, etc.), you are treated as a business owner (See #19, above) and are ineligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits in PA.  However, in my experience, a significant percentage of people that are deemed Independent Contractors are not truly Independent Contractors.  See #2-4, above.  If you prove to an Unemployment Referee that your were not in fact an independent contractor, then you will be entitled to benefits.

21)  What Happens if My Ex-Employer Does Not Show Up for My Pennsylvania Willful Misconduct Unemployment Hearing?

Quick Answer:  In most cases, you will win.

If the issue is whether you are guilty of willful misconduct, the burden is on the employer to prove that you engaged in behavior that qualifies as willful misconduct.  If the employer does not show up, then you should win the case.

NOTE:  In such circumstances, it is important that you object to any hearsay statements contained within the unemployment file that may be used against you.  Otherwise, it is possible that those statements may be used against you. 

NOTE:  When an employer fails to appear for a willful misconduct hearing, MOST Referees will just ask you a few questions, such as: "Did you work to the best of your ability,"  "Did you violate any work rules," etc.  As long as you have objected to any hearsay statements within the file, you will win the case provided that you answer "Yes,"  and "No."  Most Referees will then end the Hearing, and you win.  For such Referees, the less you say the better.  resist the urge to tell the "whole story," or to convince the Referee of how unfair your termination was, etc.  This will only get you in trouble.

For Referees that seek to grill you even though the employer has not appeared (and there are a few), you should be OK as long as you objected to all of the hearsay in the file, and keep your words and explanations to a minimum.

22)  What Happens If My Former Employer Does Not Appear for My Pennsylvania Voluntary Quit Unemployment Hearing?

Quick Answer:  It does not make things all that much easier.

If you voluntarily quit your employment (or are accused of doing so!), then the burden is on you to prove (if you did indeed quit) that you had a necessitous and compelling reason to do so.  Unemployment Referees have heard hundreds of quit cases, and they know the law and what to look for.  So you will have to present solid testimony that comports with the standards for voluntary quit cases under Pennsylvania law.

23)  My Ex-Employer Says I Quit, But I Was Actually Fired - What Happens at My Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing?

Quick Answer:  Prove first that you were indeed fired, and then the burden will shift to your former employer to prove that you were fired for willful misconduct.

Let Them Fire You
This happens a lot.  Employee is told, "We're firing you, or you can quit - why not quit to protect your record?"  Employee then says, "OK, I quit."  Employee then applies for benefits, and says "I was fired."  Employer then tells Service Center, "No, she quit."  Service Center issues Notice of  Determination, and one side or the other appeals.  At the Unemployment Hearing, the first thing you want to tell the Unemployment Referee is that this is not a "voluntary quit" case.  The Referee will then delve into what happened, inquiring about what happened during that final, fateful meeting.  The Referee will then examine the employer to find out why the employee was going to be fired.  If the employer proves it was because of willful misconduct, employer wins.  If not, you win.

24)  Can I Use the Testimony From My Unemployment Hearing in a Lawsuit?

Quick Answer:  Oh, yes.  At Unemployment Hearings, testimony is taken under oath, and is centered upon the reasons for the end of your employment.  If you believe that your employment ended for an illegal reason, such as unlawful discrimination, wrongful termination or violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, etc., then the testimony you obtain at the Unemployment Hearing may be very valuable in a later lawsuit filed against your employer.

NOTE:  Many employers do not obtain counsel to represent them at Unemployment Hearings, figuring that they have been through it before and know what to do.  Hence, their testimony at an Unemployment Hearing about why you were fired is often "unrehearsed."  Not so in a lawsuit.  There, you can be sure that the company's lawyer will have "prepared" the witness prior to their testimony.  The wonderful thing is, all the preparation in the World cannot undue their prior testimony before the Unemployment Referee!

If you think you have been fired for an illegal reason, I would suggest that it is essential that you have an attorney represent you at your Unemployment Hearing

25)  For How Long May I Receive Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania?

Quick Answer: Prior to the recent economic crisis, the answer to that question was 26 weeks.  However, two federal programs created during the recession resulted in benefits being made available for up to 99 weeks (assuming all other qualifications are met).  For now, 99 weeks remains the limit.  Someday, though, it will be reduced back to 26 weeks (or perhaps some other duration if the Pennsylvania legislature deems that to be appropriate.) 

NOTE:  The 2001 Amendment to Pa's Unemployment Law states that the maximum duration of benefits shall be 26 weeks.  Click Here to learn more about the new law. 

Note:  Click Here to read about Unemployment Extension bill passed on June 16, 2011, which further extends the benefit limit for certain Pennsylvanians.

Philadelphia Unemployment Lawyer John Gallagher's Top Answers to Your Best Questions Concerning Whether You Can Resign Your Job and Still Be Eligible for Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits

26)  Can I Get Unemployment if I Quit My Job?

Quick Answer:  Yes, but only if you had a necessitous and compelling reason to quit, and first attempted to resolve the situation with your employer.  The requirements under Section 402(b) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Law are difficult to meet; that is why we typically advise clients not to quit their jobs if they want to have the very best chance of getting unemployment benefits.

You Can Get UC Benefits - But Only
If You Satisfy the Legal Standard
However, if you are truly being subjected to an ILLEGAL hostile work environment (many people confuse lawful  "hostile work environments" with illegal "hostile work environments") or are being required to do something illegal, you have a reasonably good chance of getting benefits if you first brought the issue to the attention of management and it did not adequately address the situation.  Best to call a lawyer to get some guidance if you are thinking about quitting your job under such circumstances.  You may have a claim for discrimination or wrongful discharge, and you want to make sure that claim is "perfected" before you tender your resignation.

27)  What Are My Chances of Winning an Appeal Before the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Board of Review?

Quick Answer:  Generally speaking, pretty slim.  Only appeals that are centered on legal theories (as opposed to credibility determinations, etc.) have much chance of winning.  Click Here to read more about the UCBOR.

28)  May I Collect Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania if I am Getting a Severance?

Quick Answer:  Up until January 1, 2012, no problem.  Subsequent to January 12, 2012, there will be new limitations on this right.  Click Here for more on this issue.

29)  My employer is terminating my job, but offering me another position.  Do I have to take it?

Quick Answer:  This is known as a "suitable work" case.  If the job being offered is "suitable" (i.e. relatively similar in terms of location, hours, pay, etc.) to your former job, you will have to take that job or be denied unemployment benefits.

This issue comes up most frequently in a) situations where a designated position is being eliminated; and/or, b) situations where an assignment secured through a temporary job placement agency has come to an end, and the agency is offering a new job.  In another Blog post, I spoke about how such job "offers" are often "bogus," and in fact are intended not to put you in a new job, but rather to give the employer a basis for seeking denial of your right to unemployment.

30) What are the Rules for Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings Conducted by Telephone?
Lots of Rules - Be Careful

Quick Answer:  Effective June 16, 2011, all claimant's and employers have a right to appear at Unemployment Hearings via telephone. There are special rules for telephone hearings about which you should be aware. The most critical rule is that all documentary evidence that one wishes to have considered at the Hearing MUST be provided to the Unemployment Referee no more than 5 days before the Hearing. If you fail to do that, the evidence will not be considered, no matter how critical it may be.

The rule regarding documentary evidence applies whether you are appearing at the Hearing or not.  In other words, if your employer is appearing by telephone and you are appearing in person, you still must submit your evidence 5 days prior to the Hearing.

31)  Can I Get PA Unemployment Benefits if I Accept a Voluntary Early Retirement?

If the termination from your employment was imminent, and you agreed to accept early retirement in lieu of such termination, then yes.  And, you may be a victim of age discrimination as well...

If, on the other hand, you would have remained employed had you not accepted the voluntary retirement option, then no on the grounds that you voluntarily quit your job without "necessitous and compelling reason."  This is true even if your employer told you that it "won't contest unemployment." 

Have questions about any facet of employment law in the United States?  Chances are, I have addressed them; Click Here to read my comprehensive answers to FAQs on employment law in Pennsylvania, and throughout the USA.

32)  How Does a Settlement Payment Effect My Right to PA Unemployment Benefits?  

Quick Answer:  A voluntary settlement from your former employer will not effect your right to PA unemployment, unless (perhaps if its is (incorrectly) labelled as a severance payment. 

The plain language of the unemployment law indicates that a settlement should not affect your entitlement to unemployment.  The law as written says that payments made to former employees as a result of a claim for discrimination, etc., reduce your entitlement to benefits only if the payment is made "pursuant to an award of a labor relations board arbitrator or the like."  

Note:  Many employers are now trying to (improperly) characterize settlement payments as severance payments to avoid being charged for your unemployment compensation. Click Here to learn more. 

33)  What is my "Base Year" Under PA Unemployment Law? 

Quick Answer:  Your Base Year is the first 4 of the last 5 quarters that immediately preceded the date of your separation from your most recent employment.

Example:  You worked for Company X  during 2011 at an annual salary of $55,000, and then lost your job effective January 1, 2012,  You got a job at Company Y on January 1, 2012 and lost that job on April 1, 2012.  In this scenario, your most recent job ended April 1, 2012 so, in calculating your Base Year earnings, one skips your most recent quarter of earnings (i.e. do not take into account any of your earnings from Company Y, all of which were made during the first quarter of 2012).  Thus your Base Year earnings would be $50,000 - i.e. the amount you made during the four quarters that comprised 2011, suring which time you were employed by Company X. 

Note:  Company X can fight your claim by filing for Relief From Charges.  Click Here to learn more.

34)  What is my Ex-Employer Filing a Request for "Relief From Charges"

Quick Answer:  Because it belives that it should not be "charged" for your benefits.  This most commonly occurs under the following scenario:

After employing you for several years at a salary of $50,000 per year, Company X fires you for willful misconduct on January 1, 2012 (or, you quit your job in January 1, 2012).  You do not seek benefits relating to your unemployment because you immediately get a job with Companyt Y, which pays you $600 per week until laying you off on April 1, 2012.  You then apply for benefits.  Since the only employer that paid you Base Year wages is Company X, it alone would be charged for any benefits you receive as a result of your lay off from Company Y.  Since Company X believes you are not entitled to benefits arising from a loss of your job with it (because you engaged in willful misconduct or quit your job), it fires a request for Relief From Charges.  Click Here to learn more.

35) Can They Deny my Unemployment Claim After I am Laid Off from My New Job Because My Old Job Says I Quit or Was Fired for Willful Misconduct?

Quick Answers (2 possibilities)

Yes: if you worked at the new job for less than 13 weeks, or did not earn 6x your weekly benefits rate from your new job AND your old job can prove you engaged in willful misconduct or quit your old job without necessitours and compelling reason, they can deny you benefits.

No:  if you worked at your new job for more than 13 weeks and earned 6x your weekly benefit rate from your new job OR if you worked less than 13 weeks at new job but can prove that you did not engage in willful misconduct at your old job or that, if you quit, you had a necessitous and compelling reason for doing so.

Click Here for more on these seemingly complicated scenarios.

36)  I Quit my Old Job Because I Got a New Job - But Now My New Job Gave me a Lay-Off - Can I Get Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

Quick Answer:  Yes. If you had the job offer from the new job in hand when you quit your old job, you can.

However, your old job may fight your claim by filing for Relief From Charges if it is chargeable in whole or in part for your benefits as a Base Year employer (it will lose if you had the job offer in hand when you quit, though, because quitting to take a new job is a necessitous and compelling reason to quit a job under PA unemployment law). 

37)  Are My Performance Appraisals or Performance Evaluations Relevant at a Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing?

Will Not Save the Day....

Add caption
Rarely.  If you have been fired for willful misconduct, the case typically revolves around what you did on the date in question that caused you to be fired.  If you were fired due to stealing money from the company on February 1, the fact that the Pope had the month before annointed you as the finest worker in the World will have little relevance.  If you stole money, that is willful misconduct, no matter how good of an employee you had been.  Click Here for more on this issue. 

38)  Who Bears the Burden of Proof in a Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing?

Who Must Carry the Water?
This is a VERY important issue to understand.  If it is a willful misconduct case, the employer has the burden of proof.  If it is a quit case, the employee has the burden of proof.  If it is an independent contractor case, the employer has the burden of proving that you were an independent contractor.

Click Here for our comprehensive evaluation of the Burden of Proof issue.
39)  Can I Get Unemployment if I am Out on Disability Leave? 

In many cases, the answer is YES. Click Here to learn more.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyer

Whew...That Took a LOT of Work!

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

Need a REFERRAL to a lawyer in your area?  We have referral arrangements throughout the USA.  Fill out our Contact Form, and we will put you in touch.

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Anonymous said...

I called the UC center to inquiry about my claim. The UC telephone representative said I should be receiving a decision soon as the file notes said the examiner had gone ahead and made a decision based on the employer’s response only, since I had failed to return a claimant questionnaire form. That is absolutely false. I promptly and timely returned the form by fax and by mail. I have proof by a fax machine confirmation and also a certificate of mailing.

In reply to my question the UC telephone representative said that I could not file the form again nor ask that the examiner reconsider, amend or correct the decision. However the employer can respond whenever they get around to it, even after benefits are granted, and then the decision can be changed and benefits terminated. This is a double standard.

Due process of law and/or equal treatment under the law begin at the outset of any claim, not at the second, third or maybe the fourth tier.

The claimant’s position should receive equal consideration to the employer’s for a decision to be valid. Through no fault of my own, my position was not even considered. How can that be fair or equitable?

I do not wish to forfeit my first chance before the examiner and try to make it up later on at some other level. Can I file a review petition or some other document like a waiver request to get my side of the story before the examiner?

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

I absolutely understand your frustration, Anonymous. However, there is no formal process for obtaining a review of either the process or the decision of the Service Center. Rather, the only opportunity for "review" of the determination is the Referee's Hearing. It is a double standard, it is wrong and it is inconsistent with the remedial (i.e. helpful)purpose of the statute. At this point in the process, it seems to me you are best to stand down and await the Referee's Hearing. Supllementing the record at this poiint will only disclose additional information to your ex-employer (and thus help them prepare for the Hearing), and will not help obtain a revesal of th Service Center's detrmination. I am sorry this happened to you. Best of luck. John Gallagher

u.perpar said...

I worked over 13 yrs for a large retail co. I developed feelings for a female coworker, communicated with her by phone or text, never actually fraternized as that is against co. policy. When I told my wife about this coworker she requested that I ask for transfer and vacation or leave until I can transfer to preserve our marriage. when I showed up to work, my wife went along and stayed in the store while i worked.
I talked to my supervisor and explained everything about co-worker and requested a transfer as well as leave or time off. I was sent home saying my wife cannot be in the store while i work, even though she was not bothering anyone. Next day area hr mgr investigated my conduct with co-worker and suggested i resign since they will not consider a transfer. he told me they would not contest uc.I felt that even though they have no proof they will find something to let me go, so i resigned stating that i had a problem with coworker. reequested transfer etc.
what would be my best bet for uc.
Marriage preservation?
Thank you

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

Dear U.perpar: Thank you for writing - tough situation(s). This question really asks for rather particularized advice, which I cannot provide in this forum. I can simply refer you to my blogs on "voluntary quits." If you need help with the unemployment process, give us a call (or call a qualified unemployment lawyer in your area). John Gallagher

Paul said...

Dear Mr. Gallagher,

I have three questions:
What are the acceptable "proper causes" for failing to attend a hearing?

When a claimant's attorney bans a claimant's witness from the hearing is this a proper cause for failure of the witness to appear?

(Attorney's reasons were because hearings are not open to the public, the referee won't allow it as it is not the witness's hearing)

Can claimant get a hearing de novo, re-open the record, get reconsideration or otherwise fix this error? Any help you can provide would be great.

Thank you Mr. Gallagher.

John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer said...


I suppose hospitalization, lack of notice of the hearing (very hard to prove), death in family, car accident on the way over to the hearing, etc. would be among the "proper causes" for failing to attend a hearing. Basically, things of either extreme significance, or things utterly beyond your control.

Lawyer bans witness? Not sure what you mean by “witness.” If you mean an observer (someone there for moral support or just plain curiosity), then they must almost always be permitted to attend the hearing. All hearings are public, and a lawyer cannot ban anyone from going to the hearing; friends and strangers are free to attend all hearings absent exceptional circumstances (such as national security, or perhaps extremely personal circumstances such as sexual harassment). Further, only the Referee can "ban" people from hearings.

Sometimes, a lawyer may seek to “sequester” witnesses, that is, put them in another room until it is time for them to testify. The Referee decides that issue, but sequestration is not “banning” a witness. It merely puts them in another room to insure the integrity of their testimony. I do it all of the time to witnesses for the employer so that they don’t “parrot” the company line.

Yes, de novo hearings can occur if sufficient grounds are demonstrated. There is not a “list” of sufficient grounds, it is done on a case by case basis. However, for example, if the Claimant was in a car accident and rendered unconscious on the way to the hearing (and could prove that), the Board of Review would order that a new hearing be held.

Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

I had been working full time in one location and my employer (of 12 years) lost the contract there and I have been getting partial benefits while working for same company out-of town occasionally for about a year now. My last out-of-town job was in January. I have been getting full benefits since then and came under tier 2 extension. That must of sent a letter to my employer and they said that I quit because back in February they tried to call me 11 times with no response. I since have written letter of separation questionaire and recieved phone call from service center and answered there questions. The notice of determination came back saying they initiated the separation and showed no evidence of willful misconduct. In your opinion, do they have any leg to stand on in an appeal?

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


Thank you for writing.

They can appeal and get a Hearing before a Referee and the "quit" issue they are raising has potential merit. Without an attorney, it could be a tough case because they are going to claim they called you 11 times to offer you work, and that could be deemed a quit, or to have declined "suitable employment"....

Anonymous said...

I am still unsure how long I can receive compensation despite your wonderful information. I became unemployed in May 2011; will I be eligible for an extension after 26 weeks if I still have not found a job? And for how many more weeks at that point until all extensions are used?

Anonymous said...

I was initially deniend PA unemployment benefits, because I voluntarily quit my job. I appealed the decision and proved that the company was fraudulent, misleading customers, receiving government money that they shouldn't have, sexual misconduct within the organization and so on.

The referee reversed the decision and I was granted unemployment benefits. Since it been a long time frame before the hearing they sent me a great amount of back benefits.

The employer appealed the decision to the board, stating that I did not give them the chance to rectify the situation.

I recently forwarded emails that I kept to the board showing that I had meetings with the HR rep and the VP at the time.

The employer never denied any of my testimony, nor did they have anything negative to say about me.

Should I contact an attorney at this point? Does the employer have a chance to win the appeal?

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

To Voluntary Quit:

Winning a quit case is hard to do, but you did it. Typically, the Board will not consider any evidence that was not submitted at your Hearing initially, but it may look at the e-mails you sent. I cannot say you should hire a lawyer, because you won already, and the burden is on the employer to get the Referee reversed. That could happen (quit cases are hard), but I am not sure how much an attorney can help you under these circumstances - you have already done a great job!

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

To Extension Question:

It remains unclear at this time as to whether UC Benefits will be extended later this year. You may want to call the Service Center and see what they say about the current status on extensions. Thank you for writing.

Unknown said...

I recently got laid off from my full time job after 8 years. For the last 1 1/2 years I have been working part time as a claims rep for a public adjusting company. I signed a contract with them to be an independent contractor and I get 1099ed at the end of each year. I considered this a sideline business by your standards because I have no set schedule, no office I need to show up to for work and I am responsible for finding all of my clients. I only get paid a commission if we settle an insurance claim for a client. This work was to supplement my full time employment and I did not make as much as my full time job, but they have denied my benefits for unemployment compensation. Should I file an appeal and if so what is the best defense to use?

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Tiffmc said...

I was denied unemployment benefits for reason 402e saying I didnt follow company policies . Today was my hearing and my ex employer didnt show up. I object to some of the hearsay documents but not all of them and i also told them "the whole story" because i didnt know less was best to after i read this blog. Is my chances on recieving benefits still good?

M.D. said...

I was let go from my job about six weeks ago. I was granted unemployment benefits, but the employer is now appealing it. I don't believe they have a case but am still worried I could lose and be without benefits. Here is a background of the story, let me know your thoughts or if you have any advice to help me prepare for the hearing.

I applied for and was hired for an Admin Assistant position, and during the interview also learned that I would have the option of moving to an Office Manager position in a year after the other woman at the office retired. So I was hired and learned the Admin Assistant position. After three months, I had my first review and all my scores were satisfactory. The one frustration my employer had was that I hadn't been learning the Office Manager position yet, but besides my initial interview, not much else was said about it since then, even the current Office Manager didn't know she was supposed to be training me yet. Anyway, I said I would start learning the position right away, and did just that.

Once I started learning the position, I realized it was heavily loaded with accounting, which is not something I'm qualified to do. I let my employer know that I can do the Office Manager position and am willing to cross train but would feel more comfortable if I could stay where I am as the Admin Assistant in the long run. My employer said that they think I can handle it. A few weeks went by after this conversation and the employer fired me because they weren't happy with my progress learning the Office Manager position.

The employer stated that the reason for the appeal was because I was not performing to the best of my abilities and I was being paid for a job that I didn't want to do (which is false because she I hired as and being paid for Admin Assistant work).

Is there any way the employer can win this case? I still have my 90 day review saying that everything was satisfactory, and I had no verbal or written warning before the firing.

I would appreciate any advice you can give me. Also, if you know any lawyers that would take on a case like this for little or no money, please let me know.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

as an independent contractor not contesting the small business owner - if i don't show up for the referee hearing, will the small business owner win by default?
Background - I was simply being honest about a few checks I received for contractural work.
Please Advise. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

I hope you can help me with the proper course of action to take. In July, 2011 I was laid off due to a business slowdown from a company (Company “A”) for which I had worked for 12 years. I filed for UC benefits and they were granted. A few weeks later I was asked to help out another company (Company “B”) work on a project for a few days as a freelancer or independent contractor. I worked a total of 41 hours for Company B.

As required, I notified UC of my Company B earnings, and was told by UC that I needed to reopen my claim, which I did. I then received a letter and Claimant Questionnaire from UC regarding my employment with Company B. I filled out the Independent Contractor section of the questionnaire to the best of my ability. Unfortunately I apparently did not understand the intricacies of Independent Contractor status and answered questions in such a way that they interpreted me as an employee. Subsequently I received a Notice of Determination, which I also fully didn’t understand for I thought the NOD was saying that everything was OK and that I would continue receiving benefits. In fact, it was saying that I was regarded as an employee of Company B, not an Independent Contractor.

Now Company B has filed an appeal. Company B is correct. I have no claim against them and never intended to file a claim against them. My claim should continue against Company A. Company B should never have had to undergo the expenditure of time and money to file an appeal – what a waste! Company B will certainly never hire me again and this whole procedure is a terrible deterrent to hiring the unemployed.

So, finally, my questions are (thank you for your patience): 1) Is there anyway to prevent the hearing from taking place as it is totally unnecessary? 2) How can I assure that I continue to receive UC benefits through my employment with Company A?

Thanks much.

Bose said...

Thanks so much for the wealth of resource!
Notice of Hearing Form

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

Bose: Thank you for taking the time - and you are most welcome!

Anonymous said...

Dear Attorney Gallagher:

If possible can you give me your thoughts on the following:

I voluntarily quit a position in the U.S. Virgin Islands to return to the U.S. (family & financial reasons.

I was denied benefits and appealed. The referee denied the claim and I appealed to the UC Board. They denied the claim and I requested a reconsideration of that decision.

I just received the Board response and they "vacated" their decision and reopened the case for a further hearing.

Based on what I've read, this is very rare? What is your opinion on my chances for approval after an additional hearing?

Thanks for your help


Anonymous said...

I have a quit case and it was determined that I had a necessitous and compelling reason for quitting. I was advised that I did not exhaust alternatives to resolve the situation. In my circumstances, I had meetings scheduled with my supervisor, and the company board. They were denied. E-mails, phone conversations, and attorney involvement were exhausted. What else could I have done to "exhaust all alternatives" prior to quitting? Is this decision based on an employer questionaire? Getting straight answers from UC is difficult.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning,

I had a fault over payment in 2009 that I challanged and won thus turning it into a non fault overpayment. I filed a new unemployment claim in 2011 that was approved and I received nine weeks of payments but with a deduction as part of the claim went to repayment of the 2009 over payment. All of a sudden my payments stopped ans when I called in I was told they are going to my penalty weeks of which I have none. The reps now say the weeks will be paid out as this was the fault of the UC center but it has been six weeks and I have seen nothing yet. How do I proceed?

Anonymous said...

My former employee haappealed my claims. They say that I quit...the true story is that i wanted some time off to spend with my family before a hearing the next week. I asked for a week off but the employer asked me to work through Thursday. We talked about me working again if the hearing was postponed and even talked about him purchasing a plowtruck to keep me working through the winter periodically. when the hearing was postponed i tried to contact the owner by phone and even stopped by the shop. they were being investigated by the dept of labor and one of their other dcl drivers had a huge accident . I found out from another employee that they did not work Friday, or that following week at all. I had spoke with the owner before my original date of the hearing and he KNEW that I would be coming back if it was postponed. Now, he is stating that I quit. the business is done because of the legal ramifications of the accident and not being able to pay for all of the damages. they has insurance , but only to a million dollars and the damages well exceeded that amount and they are not claiming bankruptcy. what is the outlook for me winning my appeal?

Anonymous said...

I worked as a sales rep and teller for a credit union for almost 5 years as a very productive employee. My mom became very sick over the summer and passed away Sept. 30. From Sept. until I was fired 11-18, for willful misconduct, it was a very depressing time for me. ..I was offered FMLA but my boss did not explain the program to me for instance I didnt know I could keep my benefits and c.u would pay for them. C.U. denied me unemployemnt. tomorrow is my appeal hearing. what do you think my chances are of winning this case? any suggestions?thanks

Anonymous said...

I was a federal employee, i was "medically removed". I was doing a physical type of job & was injured off the job. I can do office work but have limited credentials to so. My employer failed to find me reasonable accomodations. My employer terminated me then had a meeting with me saying
1. I can come back to work when i made a full recovery
2. They would support me in my application for unemployment.
Doctors actually have no idea when this will be. So i appied for social security as well & they denied me saying they dont think im TOTALLY disabled. Cool, no problem...but I cannot work. Anyway, i applied for UC benefits over 2months ago. I just recently received my financial determination letter & am awaiting a final determination letter.
IS THIS NORMAL? How much longer(normally/generally) does this take to process?

claire said...

I was working at a small town store and was doing my job there was no set dress code and every employee basically dressed and acted how they pleased one night we were all staying late to fill an order and a girl was talking about how she was scared in the town I grew up in I told her not to be scared its not that bad, my manager went on to say to me that I had just moved from ghetto to ghetto so I'm used to that. I then said that the drug dealers and fiends in my ghetto aren't so bad when my dog escapes they put him back in my house and lock the door sarcastically. The owner of the establishment then told me if I sleep with dogs I will get fleas. When the next schedule came out I only had 8 hours I called the owner and asked why he then let me go and after some talking decided to keep me on. I texted a friend who was a coworker and asked in an angry way what was going on with the manager and owner? Why were they citing like this. The manager had my coworkers phone and opened the message. The owner then called nd let me go but gave no real reason now they are saying it was willful misconduct. Im not sure why they were saying This was about dress code which there was none bakers and cashiers wore shorts and tank tops and everything else or because of the incident but does any of this have to do with willful misconduct or re they just trying to not pay unemployment?

Anonymous said...

I was working at a small town store and was doing my job there was no set dress code and every employee basically dressed and acted how they pleased one night we were all staying late to fill an order and a girl was talking about how she was scared in the town I grew up in I told her not to be scared its not that bad, my manager went on to say to me that I had just moved from ghetto to ghetto so I'm used to that. I then said that the drug dealers and fiends in my ghetto aren't so bad when my dog escapes they put him back in my house and lock the door sarcastically. The owner of the establishment then told me if I sleep with dogs I will get fleas. When the next schedule came out I only had 8 hours I called the owner and asked why he then let me go and after some talking decided to keep me on. I texted a friend who was a coworker and asked in an angry way what was going on with the manager and owner? Why were they citing like this. The manager had my coworkers phone and opened the message. The owner then called nd let me go but gave no real reason now they are saying it was willful misconduct. Im not sure why they were saying This was about dress code which there was none bakers and cashiers wore shorts and tank tops and everything else or because of the incident but does any of this have to do with willful misconduct or re they just trying to not pay unemployment?

Anonymous said...

My employer let me collect benefits and a year later said I was fired for sleeping on the job. How can they contest the benefits a year after collecting?

Anonymous said...

Hello -
I've been collecting unemployment for about 6 months now - just moved from state to federal. My understanding is that the UC expects me to look further away from home, consider lower paying jobs, etc. as time goes on. I noticed a job on PACareerLink that seemed interesting and applied for it even though it is about 55 or 60 miles away and only about 75% of my previous job salary. I got an interview. The interviewers were honest that the days typically run well over 8 hours. I left their office about the time a workday normally would end and in rush hour traffic the trip home took an hour and 20 minutes. So, long hours exacerbated by a long commute, higher transportation costs (My previous job was only 10 miles away. This job as previously noted is about 60 miles and involves PA turnpike tolls) and lower pay. If it is offered to me, would PA UC cut my payments for turning it down? Thank you in advance for your reply.

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

Anon: sorry for greatly delayed response! Unfortunately, I am unaware of any time limit on when an employer can fight a claim. It makes little sense, I know, but that is the reality...I do see such delayed employer reactions from time to time, although it is not the norm.

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

Anonymous: that is a long commute and more than 50 miles away, so I think you will not have your benefits cut if it is offered and you decline to accept. See my Post on the new Pa Unemployment Law enacted June 2011, wherein I discuss that one must only accept a job located within 45 minute commute from home.

El said...

On UE for the past 6 months. Offered settlement from employer for 75K. How does this effect my UE benefits? If worded compromise and release would I have to pay back my UE benefits for the last 6 months? Since I have no job can I still get UE going forward? If I didn't accept settlement and waited for Judge to rule (since its a strong case) could this benefit me in still having my UE and not having to pay it back. Thanks for any help

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about the longer-term impact of accepting a short-term partime job while on unemployment. My question is not about the impact on my weekly benefit amount. I understand that I can make about $240 per week without any reduction in benefits. My question relates to what happens when my benefit year ends in early December 2012? Might my weekly amount be reduced at that point because I was employed from September to November? I'm collecting the maximum weekly amount now. The short-term gig will pay...well, there are two possibilities actually...one pays about $200 per week, the other pays about $320 per week. Both are half-time jobs. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I live in NJ and I worked in PA for 7 months. I was denied unemployment the state said because I was fired for performance reasons and they have no record of me ever working in the state of pa. I called my employer and they never called me back. What do I do?

Anonymous said...

I am in the process of negotiations with my previous employer and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to possibly reach a settlement resolution in a discrimination and wrongful termination case. I am currently receiving Unemployment Compensation and have been since January 1 2012. Will I be responsible for paying back unemployment compensation the monies I received if I should settle with my previous employer.

Unknown said...

I quit my job in August after 8 years of being there. AT&T is the company I used to work for. I quit due to hostile work environment with sexual harassment. I went on stress leave 4 different times in the 2 months period. I went to hr and the union to have me change store locations and was denied. I have asked hr about 5 different times, I have everything in writing to prove that I did this to keep my job. I was harassed on daily basis by the anagement team, including performance, which is part of the job I get it, but sexual harassment continued on daily basis by various members of the management team. I have filed for unemployment on August 26, the caim says that it has been processed and also states that 2 different payments have been issued for the week of September 16 and 24. I don't know if my employer will fight it, I know that my boss has it out fr me and will do anything to dispute it, but I don't know that AT&T as a company will want to deal with sexual harassment at their work place. Please let e know your thoughts.

woman who roars said...

I was laid off from my job in 9/11 and approved for UC. I started working a 1099 job shortly after (very part time, about $90-$100 a week, sometimes more, all income has been reported and I filed my taxes, etc. correctly) and have been documenting this on my bi weekly claim. UC just realized it is a 1099 job. I certainly wasn't hiding it - I called in and told them I found part time work and reported the money I made, but now they are saying I may have to back pay ALL of my UC benefits. Is this really possible? The 1099 is really seasonal. I made about 5k with them last year but only about $1100 this year, and I've gotten over 24K in UC. Am I really in a position where I would need to pay that back?

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am loosing my job in April, 2013 after 25 years and will be receiving a 40 week severance. I also have worked a part time job (receive a 1099) for the last 20 years. Can this 1099 job affect my unemployment? I have claimed the earned wages on my taxes every year and will continue to work at this job when my full time position ends. One more question, how will they calculate my unemployment wages since I am receiving a severance and how long will I have to wait for it? Do they calculate it by using before taxes or after taxes?

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Hello, I am loosing my job in April, 2013 after 25 years and will be receiving a 40 week severance. I also have worked a part time job (receive a 1099) for the last 20 years. Can this 1099 job affect my unemployment? I have claimed the earned wages on my taxes every year and will continue to work at this job when my full time position ends. One more question, how will they calculate my unemployment wages since I am receiving a severance and how long will I have to wait for it? Do they calculate it by using before taxes or after taxes?

Thank you!

Unknown said...


I am losing my job on April 30, 2012 after 25 years of service. I will receive a 40 week severance. I live in Pennsylvania and was wondering how they will calculate when and how much unemployment I will receive. I know there is a calculation that they use, but do they use the amount that you receive before or after taxes to calculate.

Thank you!

Find Attorney Jobs said...

Great piece of writing! I am confident this is going to help a lot of community.

Anonymous said...

My position was eliminated and I was laid off effective 03/31 and given a 6 week severance. My employer offered me a position for almost 25% less an hour and job duties way below what I doing previously. My options are, going back and working the same number of hours a week (35) or going back and working 16 hours a week.At first I thought the 16 hour a week option would benefit me because I could still work but have the time available to search for a suitable job. My questions: 1)If I go back working the same number of hours but at a reduced hourly wage can I collect partial UC? 2)Do they use the highest quarter to calculate benefits for partial UC as they do for full UC?

Anonymous said...

I am aware of someone that worked a seasonal landscaping job in PA and proceeded to collect unemployment for about 2 years. While collecting they traveled extensively including at least 2 trips to NM skiing for 2 to 4 consecutive weeks. On two of these trips they flew to two other states from NM before returning home. They said they saw nothing wrong with it. I consider it fraud because it is outside of the local market i.e.50 miles and for weeks at a time. Am I correct?

Unknown said...

I lost my job of 7 years and began collecting unemployment. About 3 months later I tried starting my own business and as required reported to UC and benefits stopped. After 4 months and lots of money, I was forced to close the business and am trying to re-open my initial claim to collect the rest of the UC I am entitled to. My request was denied and now have a hearing scheduled to "prove that I am not engaged in self employment".
Based on your experience, will I be able to collect the rest of my original claim?

Anonymous said...

If u work for a fortune 500 company and were out on disability can ur manager badger u about y u were out. Some company have TPD where disability paperwork and approvals are done and details r not revealed to ur manager can they legally get away by constantly trying to get u to reveal ur disability

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

Anon: Generally, your employer should not bother you when you are out on sick leave. If you are on FMLA Leave, it is unlawful to require you to do work. Of course, a certain amount of back and forth may be required at the outset of a leave but, beyond that, they should not be bothering you. Of course, people do unlawful things every day, and it takes a great deal of tact to gently inform an employer of your rights, but that is the answer to your question. Feel better soon!

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

Tracy: If while on unemployment one starts his/her own business, benefits are cut off. There is no workaround on that. None. It does not matter if you make a cent, or lose millions - the moment you start your own company you become ineligible for UC Benefits. Fini. Done. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to you and many other honest, hard working Americans, but that rule is universal, and that is the name of that tune...

Anonymous said...

My car was repossed and I was trying everything I could to get to work. I was calling in every night but after about a week my terminal manager told me if I was not in that night he was saying goodbye to me which I had no choice and I had to call off. So I took that as I was let go but he calls me two days later and says u are going to have to quit or something I said you already told me you u were saying goodbye to me which he had no comment. Dont you think I was let go ?

Anonymous said...

My manager for almost 3 months when i started was smoking consistently in the office and after 3 months i had enough of it. Contacting my boss almost 45 days prior to leaving, i found that my manager was violating the Clean Indoor Act of 2008 which is a ban of smoking in both restaurants and workplaces. It is also deemed a non smoking building and next to a day care center. Does the Inddor Clean Air Act give good enough reason as an employee to make a change and move forward, as a protection to ones health and receiving unemployment? I'm going to present that law to my hearing today. I will extremely consider you if this fails. Thanks So Much

Ms Laila Marie said...

Ok so i was fired from my job in April. That same week I found out i was pregnant. I was hired by my new job end of July but my start date was pushed back until 9/15. We dont have an HR dept. I am eligible for benefits after 30 days. Im due 12/25. My question is, will i be eligible for short term disability? Im almost positive i dont qualify for FMLA.

kendel said...

the only i can say is this lawyer is amazing, he will defend your right no matter what, thank you Mr Gallegher to have the opportunity to be your client, not think twice, no matter what is your case, honest and professional, it's a great lawyer...

Att K.D

Anonymous said...

I work for a family based bakery. I have been talked to by my boss with vulgar language several times. The other day, their son actually had got in my face there using the f word every other word. Thigh nothing was done in that moment when the owner was standing there. There is no human resources nor any one to talk to.they are/have created a hostile environment fort me to go into work inn fear of being belittled, talked down on, and talked to in a manner no work place should accept. What do I do?

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

Thanks, Kendel. It was my pleasure to serve.

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

Dear Anonymous:

While vulgar language is crude and disturbing, it is not illegal nor does its use alone constitute a hostile work environment in the legal sense. Probably best to look for another job. If you quit solely because of this language, I doubt you will get unemployment benefits...

Unknown said...

I worked for a production company that makes car Windows. My supervisor was aware of my bipolar, anxiety and depression. I've had no problems up till the day in question when I was having a hard time breathing. I didn't know what was causing it at the time. I informed the department supervisor and he told me to deal with it. I shut down the production line 3x because I couldn't keep up. He called me into a meeting and told me my work performance was horrible. I told him that I was having a hard time breathing. He told me I was lying and he didn't believe me. I complained to his supervisor about it and two days later I was fired for "purposefully shutting down the production line". My doctor informed me that I most likely had a panic attack. Is any of this legal? Others haven't been fired for health issues.

Unknown said...

I worked for a production company that makes car Windows. My supervisor was aware of my bipolar, anxiety and depression. I've had no problems up till the day in question when I was having a hard time breathing. I didn't know what was causing it at the time. I informed the department supervisor and he told me to deal with it. I shut down the production line 3x because I couldn't keep up. He called me into a meeting and told me my work performance was horrible. I told him that I was having a hard time breathing. He told me I was lying and he didn't believe me. I complained to his supervisor about it and two days later I was fired for "purposefully shutting down the production line". My doctor informed me that I most likely had a panic attack. Is any of this legal? Others haven't been fired for health issues.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

My employer fired me and presented a series of write ups that I never signed nor did I ever receive copies of. I'm appealing this to the Commonwealth Courts. I've been denied twice. There were literally no write ups that were considered by the u.c. Ref to have been attributed to tardiness . No write ups, no clock in times submitted. Nothing but my employer's lies and deception. Please help me. The UC Ref in Williamsport PA is quit biased and incompetent.

Anonymous said...

I was working for a small company in 2015. I had been working at another job before that but quit when I was offered a job for more money at the small company. Seven and half months later that small company laid me off on 9/10/15. That day I got a letter signed by the president stating that my position, along with 30% of the staff, was being eliminated, and that I should seek unemployment benefits and Obamacare. I did that.

I was 61 years old so it took a long time for me to get another full time job. I had a temp part time job for a while so I got a partial benefit for three months. I was very careful to report all of that income every time however so my partial benefit would be correct. In the end I did use almost all of my UC before I got another job. Now, one year later, the employer is asking for relief from charges and I have to go to hearing. How can they do that? Please help. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Due to a medical condition I sent my employer my restrictions asking for suitable work based on this because I'm available to work. I was on an illness recovery time to return to work at the end of August as per a doctors note. The company then put me on an unpaid leave even though I could return saying that unless I can perform my essential job duties that I may not return. I have requested at least 20 different times since then to have suitable work with denial as I had a doctors note to return after my follow up appointment. Why would they put me on an unpaid LOA?
I made one last attempt to contact my GM, emailing her with my medical restrictions asking for suitable work. She replied that I must go through the subsidiary company who handles my leave and I replied back that I have done that multiple times with denials and that if there is no suitable work for me I would have no choice but to resign and search for a job to accommodate me as I could not remain unpaid. She did not reply. I resigned on 9/16/16 and put the reason in my letter.
I received a call from the HR Manager saying that he would not process my resignation unless I lie and change my wording in my resignation and email him a new one. I asked if there were accommodations for me and what they could be and he replied "we don't know what could happen, we could bring you back and terminate you". He said unless I change my wording because he can not have that "on file" that he would not process the resignation and he would hold up my 401k that I'm fully vested in receiving. I told him I would not lie.
I applied for unemployment and sent them my proof of request and the reply. They said the employer said I never told them, but I have proof. They are in the process of a determination and I told them I would never leave a job making over $1000 per week with medical benefits which I require for further treatment but the company left me no choice.
I received two more voicemails from HR Manager stating that he won't process the resignation without the email changing my words and that the unemployment claim would not go anywhere for me because he won't do it and will leave me under employed status and I would not receive my 401k either.
I stayed loyal to this company even through documentation of a hostile environment and harassment. If I stuck through that, why would I just leave for no reason after multiple attempts to try to return to work? I have a family to support and medical bills that I can not afford to further treatment. I need to be working and when they left me no choice I had to file for unemployment to help me get back in my feet and find another job.

Bacon said...

I just have a general question for you or anyone that may know what the answer could be? I am working full time. I am hearing impaired (legally Deaf) and have been at my place of employment for almost 12 years. Doing the EXACT same thing. I have asked repeatedly for a change of my position and asked for any available overtime as others on the floor are given that opportunity and not me due to my disability. This is understandable because this building I work in has changed from a Data Entry employment to full call center. I have reached a point where I am simply too old to remain where I am. I am raising a kid with my ex-wife. We share custody. I have my son every weekend. I am also going to school full time (OVR states I MUST attend school full time with no exception for financial aide). As you can see, I am overwhelmed and stressed with my schedule. Are there any legal steps I can take to leave and collect so I can attend school full time for a better future for me since I am hearing impaired and there are room for growth in this work place? Thank you.

Bob said...

My husband owned a company for past 11 years and became disabled and the company closed their doors. I was his wife and had no ownership interests or shares and I lost my job there. Am I able to collect benefits?

Anonymous said...

My question is, can i received unemployment if i quit my job for the reason that I have a newborn and i dont have no one to take care her and we cant afford a child care center for all the financial situation that we have.

Unknown said...

I believe I was terminated, since my work just stopped paying me one day and I had to contact the bureau of labor to get paid. However when I spoke to UC they told me it sounds like I quit. Where does the burden of proof fall and should I bother with an appeal? Do I need a lawyer for an appeal? Do you do consulatations?

Anonymous said...

I worked for a company full time salaried position from march 8th 2014 & then my job was eliminated December 8th 2015 due to financial restructure...I applied for unemployment which was granted. I only received unemployment benefits for 1 month because I obtained employment January 11, 2016. On Dec 18th 2016 my job was eliminated due to financial restructure. I was denied benefits, is this a correct determination? is there anything I can do?

I have been actively employed from may 2013 through dec 8th 2015 & then just used 1 month of unemployment from dec 2015 to jan 11th 2016 And I'm being denied for present benefits from this restructure of dec 18 2016

Anonymous said...

I've been employed for 33 years at a company an am eligible for partial retirement. If I am 'let go' as many of my co-workers have been due to financial reasons, will I lose my retirement? Also, if I have the option and take my partial retirement after termination (which is only about $400 a month) can I still get unemployment? Thank you

Bill said...

I quit my job because a supervisor had continued to verbally assault me in front of his crew. I complained to management with no results. The last time it happened, I was so stressed out and about to have a breakdown. I notified a manager and my boss and explain what happened and was going home because I was about to breakdown.
Later, I was charged for abandoning my job. Then my boss told me it was not a good idea to request back pay for overtime that I had worked in the past.
Do you feel that I could collect uc for these reasons. I worked for this company for 23 years.

Anonymous said...

I had to leave work for surgery on a service connected injury I received. After my 12 Week FMLA time. They said FMLA allowed for a 4 week extension. At The the end of those extra weeks. I was unable to return so I was terminated. Do I have any kind of protection from it being service related.

Anonymous said...

I was working 2 jobs 1 full time 1 part time. I was laid of my part time job. someone told me I could apply for unemployment and still work. I figured what the heck I'll apply worst case scenario I'd be denied which I assumed I would be since I still had my full time job. I applied for benefits for losing my part time job and I stated that I am still employed with my full time job on my application. I was approved for benefits. I am concerned because what if this was a mistake ? will i be penalized? I have been filing because I figured hey maybe things have change with UC benefits I haven't been unemployed for over 10 years. But I am concerned because I keep seeing on certain blogs that I if your working your not entitled to benefits. before I was approved wouldn't UC have to verify my employment before releasing benefit? wouldnt they have deemed me ineligible if my 1 st employer stated I am still working?? I made sure to put all that information in my application. I dont know what I should do will I be hit with an over payment letter because of this??

Anonymous said...

I was working temp jobs and left one that realistically probably only lasted another few weeks. I went to work at a high school to see if it would be a good career change. I taught a science topic I know nothing about but was told I would be fine as I have teaching experience and would be okay. The school is inner city and alternative--meaning it was a very tough group. After one week, I was losing my mind and could not continue and resigned with one days notice. Am I eligible? Does it matter if the other job ended a couple of weeks later?

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Unknown said...

Due to unforeseen events my babysitter was no longer able to watch my child and I requested a personal leave from my job so that I could find another sitter or daycare for my child. My job denied the leave and is asking me to come back to work immediately but I’m still searching for child care because the time I requested to find the child care is still not up. If I quit due to not having childcare would I still be able to collect unemployment?

Unknown said...

I had emergency gallbladder surgery on Tuesday is there anyway I can claim to cover my 2 weeks off the doctor's says I need to recoup. I am only part time so I dont have any type of leave or coverage at work.

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Unknown said...

I hope you can help me. On 02/08/2012 I got a letter from IRS stating Pa office of unemployment was taking my tax refund. When I called pa they told me there were no other records but the order. I recieved ua in 2005. They took 7730.00 in 2012. Now this year 2019 my refund again has been taken for 5383. From what i have read there is a 6yr statute of limitations. Which was over the first time around. Is their anyway I can get my money back? I cant keep doing this for something i had no control over. Please help me.
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