Employers Use Unfair Tactics to Fight Unemployment Claims
April 4th, 2010 James Peters
We often attend unemployment appeal hearings on behalf of clients because they are also pursuing wrongful termination claims against their former employers. This is both as a precautionary measure and a chance to obtain vital information at the outset of a case. These hearings are conducted in front of an administrative law judge and under oath, so anything either side says could potentially be used against them in later litigation. If you think that your termination was illegal and that you might pursue claims against the company, I urge you to contact an attorney as soon as possible before you attend an unemployment hearing. If you testify at an unemployment appeal hearing without being prepared you could cause severe damage to your claims without even knowing it. On the other hand, giving your attorney a chance to question the people who terminated your employment under oath without their having an attorney there to advise them is a tremendous opportunity. In the last five years or so I started noticing non-attorney representatives from third-party companies who specialize in contesting unemployment claims on behalf of employers and they have been becoming more common. The New York Times recently published an article about the increased use of companies that specialize in contesting unemployment claims for employers. The most disturbing aspect of these companies' involvement is that they seem to contest every single claim filed against an employer, knowing that some employees simply will not appeal a denial of their claim or will not show up at the hearing to fight for their unemployment benefits. Whenever I see a case where an employer contests an unemployment claim without any reasonable basis for doing so, there is almost always one of these companies on the other side pulling the strings. However, one interesting thing I have noticed is that these companies almost never attend the appeals hearing if they find out the claimant has a lawyer. To me this suggests that they do not even look at the merits of an unemployment claim unless they absolutely have to, which is a terrible thing to do to a former employee. In some California counties, these appeals do not go to a hearing until months after the paperwork is filed. Forcing an employee to go through a meritless appeal of their unemployment is a serious disruption to their life. Instead of focusing on finding a new job, they have to worry about whether they will not only lose their future benefits, but also have to pay back the unemployment pay they have already received. Many states have passed laws that curtail some of the abuses these companies engage in, but California has yet to take action. Until then, employees should be vigilant in fighting for their unemployment benefits and should not be intimidated if their employer tries to contest their claim.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.