Monday, January 7, 2013

CONFESSIONS and Pennsylvania Unemployment Law

I am  sure that most applicants for Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits have little or no idea as to how the process actually works. How could they?  Unlike employers' who terminate many people and are intimately familiar with the unemployment process, many employees have never been fired, or applied for benefits before.
As we have discussed in the past, your claim is first analyzed and decided by the Pennsylvania Service Center.  Thereafter, if either side appeals from the Service Center's determination, a Hearing before a Pennsylvania Unemployment Referee is held. 
Critically, if you were terminated from your job, then the employer BEARS THE BURDEN OF PROVING YOU ENGAGED IN WILLFUL MISCONDUCT.  This can often be a difficult thing for an employer to do, since very often the facts that the employer needs to prove to win at the Referee Hearing are inadmissible Hearsay. 
Resist the Urge to "Come Clean"
What is the easiest way for an employer to win a Pennsylvania Willful Misconduct Unemployment Hearing, then?  YOUR CONFESSION!
In a recent Post, we discussed how employers attempt to obtain confessions from employees in order to gain maximum strategical advantage when terminating an employee.  If you have avoided such a confession to your employer, then you are working with a clean slate when applying for unemployment benefits.
If your claim is being contested, you will likely receive an Employee Questionnaire, which asks you to provide your position on the matter.  Here, many employees make a crucial mistake:  They confess to having done wrong, often "explaining" that "everyone does it" or suggesting that they were justified due to factors over which you had no control.

The thinking, I believe, is that the Unemployment Service Center will "see my point of view" and "will appreciate my honesty."  These thoughts are flawed.

Service Center: Friend or Foe?
In my view, one must be very, very careful when completing an Employee Questionnaire.  In fact, if you have been accused of document falsification, theft or dishonesty, committing a serious work rule violation that caused damage to the company's property, or otherwise engaging in similarly serious misconduct, you may assume that the Service Center will rule against you no matter what you say. 

Hence, in such circumstances, my advice is: don't complete the Questionnaire.  Better to say nothing and get ready for the Referee Hearing than to say something that is tantamount to an admission that will cost you dearly at such Hearing.

For a discussion on additional Pitfalls of "Confession" as relates to your employment rights, Click Here.
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…

Click Here to e-mail John directly.

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1 comment:

Attorney Jobs Washington DC said...

Absolutely the worst and most unprofessional agency I have worked with and I have worked with most all of them.