Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Lawyer - Why Are Unemployment Claims So Important?
Perhaps the best way to express my views on this topic is to provide you with some of my background.
I started practicing law in 1991, and up until 2006 I worked for two different law firms, mostly representing Corporate America on a wide-variety of employment law related matters. During the first 15 years of my career, I have virtually no exposure to Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation Law. Unemployment claims were "below the pay grade" of the Firms for whom I was employed and/or was a Partner, and I had won some pretty significant cases.
Pennsylvania Lawyer With Significant Experience in Handling Willful Misconduct Unemployment Referee Hearings in King of Prussia, Springfield, Malvern, Philadelphia, Bristol, Reading and Lancaster
In 2006, I formed my own Firm, mostly representing individuals in lawsuits against employers.
A couple of years later my client, for whom I had filed an EEOC Charge of Age Discrimination with the intention to thereafter file suit in federal court, asked me to help her with her upcoming Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing before a Referee. I said, "Sure," and I think we agreed that she would pay me $500 if we won any money in her yet-to-be-filed federal case. I had no idea what I was getting into!
Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings Before A Referee - What Happens, What to Expect and How to Prepare
Since my client had been fired, the company had to prove that she engaged in willful misconduct in order to win the Hearing.
|Referee Hearings Are About This Colorful!|
We ultimately won, but I suggest it was by the narrowest of margins! Moreover my client and I knew that there was no way that she would have won had I not been in the Hearing with her.
As a result, my client received $573 a week in benefits over the following 18 months (she couldn't find a comparable job and, back then, you could get extended benefits). So, my efforts on her behalf resulted in her receiving around $41,000. That's $41,000.
Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation Board of Review Does NOT Permit or Provide a Second Bite at the Apple
Soon after, I learned that one's recourse in the event of a loss before the Unemployment Referee is limited to the Pennsylvania's Board of Review's examination of the evidence and testimony developed during the Referee Hearing (i.e. one does not get a second bite at the hearing apple in order to introduce evidence "I didn't know was going to be important.") That's when it hit me that representing folks at Unemployment Hearings was an important service that I could provide.
Attorney's Fees - Is it Worth it to Hire a Lawyer to Represent Me for my Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Referee Hearing?
Months after the Referee Hearing, I filed a federal lawsuit on my client's behalf, fought off a motion to dismiss the case and engaged in written discovery, along with a deposition. I probably spent about 40 hours of time on those matters and related responsibilities.. As it turned out, her age discrimination case lacked substantial merit, and we settled for a relatively small sum (less than $41,000). The client paid me my contingent fee, plus the promised $500 UC Hearing fee.
There are two economic realities that I can assure you resulted from my representation of the client in these two separate matters: 1) I earned far more "per hour" handling the Unemployment Hearing than I did prosecuting the federal lawsuit; and, 2) my client financially benefited far more from the 6 hours or so I spent representing her in connection with her claim for Unemployment benefits than she did as a result of the 40 or more I exhausted prosecuting her age claim in federal court!
The economics of the two separate representations were immediately clear to me, as was something else. Something incredibly important.
"Prior Testimony" of Employer's Witnesses Given at a Pennsylvania Unemployment Referee Hearing Admissible and May Be Used Against Company That is a Defendant in a Subsequent Discrimination Lawsuit
The Referee Hearing had been recorded, and we were able to get a transcribed copy of the proceedings via the issuance of a subpoena after we filed our federal age discrimination lawsuit. This is really key in this setting because:
* In any lawsuit, witness testimony taken under oath prior to a Trial is of substantial importance, because it at once predicts and limits what the witness can say at Trial.
|Proof of Pretext Key to Proving Discrimination|
*** In a willful misconduct Unemployment Hearings before a Referee, the central issues are: 1) What does the company say is the reason that it fired the claimant; and, 2) What evidence exists that supports the employer's stated reason for the termination?
So, in an Unemployment Hearing where the employee's alleged willful misconduct is at issue, the testimony of the employer's witnesses concerning why the employee was fired, and the evidence offered through testimony to support its claim, is extremely significant.
|"Prior Testimony" Invaluable|
Consequently (and to my delight), its witnesses were not prepared to be cross-examined by an attorney who had conducted many examinations in the past.
|Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing Transcript May Be Subpoenaed|
Thus, while my client's case was weak, I did at least have some very useful testimony that benefited my client during the settlement process.
Lawyer Near Philadelphia Who Represents Claimants in Unemployment Cases Dealing With Independent Contractor, Self-Employment, Overpayment and Sideline Employment Issues
Thereafter, I began to represent more and more claimants throughout the Unemployment claim process. It was (and remains) exhilarating to win a hard-fought Referee Hearing. Handling Unemployment Hearings keeps my litigation skills sharp, and winning provides crucial financial assistance to my clients during a difficult time in their lives.
Moreover, I from time to time am able to take great advantage of the testimony and evidence secured during an Unemployment Hearing in a subsequent federal lawsuit.
However, I have along the way, discovered a few realities that caused me dismay.
Pennsylvania's Unemployment Law is Remedial Statute Intended to Assist Individuals Who Lost Their Job "Through No Fault of Their Own"
|Initial Determination Crucial|
|Decides Pennsylvania Unemployment Claims|
|Some Referee's More "Fair" Than Others|
These injustices, in combination with the economic and strategical value of representing claimants, led me to delve deeper into the Pennsylvania Unemployment Law. It was a small step from there to start a Blog primarily motivated by a desire to help the public by informing it in plain language about the things I was learning.
Experienced Philadelphia Attorney Who Handles Voluntary Quit Unemployment Referee Hearings in Pennsylvania
|Many Hours of Blogging Over the Years!|
CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO JOHN'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
In July, 2010, I "produced" my first (rather crude) video on YouTube; that Video, and others relating to Unemployment Law and Employment Law in general, has since garnered in excess of 135,000 views! Who would have thought?
|Our FAQ on Pennsylvania Unemployment Law is - well - Chock Full of Information|
Since I wrote that first Post and made that first Video, I have represented more than a thousand claimants on a vast array of matters, spanning from how to complete the Pennsylvania Department of Labor's Online Initial Claims Form to how to Appeal a Referee's Decision to the Board of Review, and including a (rather lengthy) Pennsylvania Unemployment FAQ page covering everything in between!
Have I helped clients complete Claimant Questionnaires? Many times (a reasonable fee for telephone assistance taking roughly 30 minutes is requested).
Have I helped clients complete Independent Contractor Questionnaires? Tricky little devils with which I am quite familiar (a reasonable fee for telephone assistance taking roughly 45 minutes is requested).
|Feel Misclassified? You Probably Are|
NOTE: Intentionally misclassifying "true employees" as "independent contractors" is becoming more and more commonplace, though, and winning self-employment/independent contractor Unemployment Hearings is often quite feasible.
Addresses, Pictures, Directions, Phone and Fax Numbers and e-Mail Addresses to Pennsylvania Referee Offices Unemployment Referee Hearing Offices in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
|Overhead View of King of Prussia, Pa |
Unemployment Referee Hearing Office
Located at 100 Ross Road -
NOTE: Click on any City identified above to jump to contact information, etc. for Referee Office located therein.
|Unemployment Benefits Are Supposed to be |
Available to All Who Are Unemployed "Through No Fault of Their Own"
Every time I complete a Post, I will list it below, with a Link to jump to same.
* How To Complete the Pennsylvania Unemployment On-Line Application for Benefits - Did I Quit or Was I Fired? Posted May 15, 2016
I hope that you find this Series helpful!
|John A. Gallagher, Esquire - Represents Claimants |
Seeking Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Benefits
Philadelphia Unemployment Lawyer
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…
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