Unemployment Insurance Compensation

Unemployment insurance compensation may be available to a worker who, through no fault through his/her own, is separated from employment and is available for work.

Claims processed involve an initial determination by the Commission, an Appeal to a Referee who conducts a hearing and takes testimony, and subsequent levels of appeal to the Commission and to the judicial branch.

The employer is not a party to the action but may contest an application for unemployment insurance.

A claimant may be disqualified from eligibility for unemployment benefits if the involuntary separation from employment was a result of misconduct or if the worker is able to apply for suitable work or fail to accept suitable work, or voluntarily left employment.  Misconduct is defined to include falsification of employment application, violating an uniformly promulgated and enforced workplace rule, damaging property of the employer because of the employee’s gross negligence, working under the influence of alcohol or drugs, refusing to follow reasonable orders given by the employer, endangering the safety of others, or being incarcerated.

If the employee is separated from employment because of unsatisfactory attendance and the worker cannot show “good cause” for that absenteeism, the worker will be ineligible for benefits, unless absence from work arises from the work itself, i.e. a work-related injury.

Even if an injury that is non-work related is the result of the employee’s non-attendance, the employee may be eligible for benefits if he/she can show that he or she had good cause for the absence and that the absence was not his/her fault.

An employee who has been given work restrictions that preclude his/her return to the job may be eligible for unemployment even if no job exists within the work restrictions with the employer.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.         Am I eligible for unemployment insurance compensation if I have a work-related injury and am unable to work?

ANSWER:     If the injury is work-related and the injury is the reason for the employee’s absence from work, the employee may still be eligible for unemployment insurance.  When the period of total incapacity has ended and partial incapacity (work restrictions) are imposed upon the injured worker, the injured worker is still entitled to unemployment unless the employer provides suitable work for the employee.

2.         My employer reduced my pay by 25%, am I entitled to unemployment compensation?

ANSWER:     A substantial reduction in pay generally provides good cause for an employee’s resignation leaving the employee maintaining his/her eligibility for unemployment insurance compensation benefits.  While no bright line exists, generally 20% or greater reduction in pay is a substantial reduction in pay.

3.         Can I draw unemployment if the work offered is unsuitable?

ANSWER:     Being offered unsuitable work does not qualify an otherwise eligible worker for unemployment benefits as long as the unsuitability presents a safety or health risk, is employment which requires training and experience beyond the workers qualifications and/or involves travel distances that are unreasonable from the worker’s residence.  The worker who is terminated because he/she refuses to engage in illegal activities may be otherwise qualified for unemployment.

In some instances, an employee who has been harassed or otherwise mistreated may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

4.         Do I need a lawyer?

ANSWER:     Claimants are not required to obtain counsel but may do so at their own expense.