Employing Counsel for Unemployment Claims

The U.S. economy continues to rebound from some lean years.  The boom era of the 1980’s seems eons ago as companies have downsized and restructured their spending and priorities.  An unfortunate byproduct of this economic environment is the loss of employment.  Many people find themselves seeking work.  Being let go from a job can be a very difficult transition.  The financial aspect is a primary concern for one who is newly unemployed.  If you are terminated from your job in North Carolina you may be entitled to unemployment benefits.  The amount of weekly unemployment benefits depends on the length of your employment and the amount of your employment earnings.   A common myth is that you will automatically receive benefits upon being separated from your employment…..not true.  If your termination was for “willful misconduct” you can forget about any real chance of getting benefits.  If your termination was for “substantial fault” you will be denied benefits for a period of anywhere between 4 and 13 weeks but still receive benefits for the remainder of the relevant period.  The difference between “willful misconduct” and “substantial fault” is often subject to great debate and can mean the loss or gain of hundreds of dollars to an employee.   

Sometimes the employee is terminated without fault which means all unemployment benefits due are available to the employee.  This is common in plant closings, job shutdowns, and mass layoffs.  Note there is even a possibility of recovering unemployment Unemployment benefitsbenefits if you quit your job but the burden you must meet for this is EXTREMELY high. 

Unemployment benefits claims are handled by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security (formerly known as the Employment Security Commission).  Here is the process……..employee files for benefits (either online or in person at local Division of Employment Security office)…Division contacts the employer and obtains information on why the employee was terminated…….an adjudicator renders an initial decision as to whether and how many weeks of benefits employee shall receive…….if employee disagrees with the decision he or she has the right to request a hearing (which would be conducted either via telephone or in person at local Division office).  It is at this point—once the employee receives the initial decision—-that the employee should consult an attorney to determine the prospects of an appeal of the decision.   There are times when you stand to lose benefits if you appeal the adjudicator’s decision because the appeals referee may feel the initial decision was too kind.  If this happens you took you would have expended your time and actually come out worse off….yikes!

If you have been denied unemployment benefits you should seek a lawyer for your North Carolina unemployment hearing.  Do not go it alone and take your chances against a HR person, supervisor, corporate brass, or an attorney.  The hearing is the most important event in most unemployment claims as the record and rulings created may be tough to overturn on subsequent appeal.  Not to mention the cost of pursuing an unemployment claim beyond the hearing phase becomes increasingly more expensive. 

The O’Neal Law Office provides free consultations and flat rate representation for employees at unemployment hearings in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina (Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, Burlington, etc).  Contact Attorney John O’Neal to discuss your unemployment claim today.


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