Unemployment Benefits: Employers Do Not Determine Eligibility
Many Massachusetts employees who are unexpectedly fired or laid off from work find themselves in dire financial straits. Unemployment benefits allow many individuals and families the opportunity to pay the mortgage and other household bills while they locate their next career opportunity. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) is the Massachusetts state agency responsible for determining whether displaced employees are eligible for unemployment benefits, which typically last for up to six months.
Many people are not aware of the fact that their former employer does not have the authority to determine whether an individual is entitled to benefits. The DUA makes this determination. So, even if the company presents that the terminated employee is not entitled to benefits, the DUA may rule otherwise.
If your former employer terminated the employment relationship, then the onus is on the company to establish that you, the former employee, are not entitled to the benefits. This is important because if the employee terminates the relationship (i.e., resigns or quits), then it is more difficult to convince the DUA to grant your application for unemployment benefits.
If your former employer terminates the employment relationship, the DUA will only deny your application if the employer establishes that you, as the employee, either:
- (1) engaged in deliberate misconduct in willful disregard of the employer’s best interest, or
- (2)violated a uniformly enforced company policy.
If the employer cannot prove either of these two prongs pursuant to the statute, the employee should prevail.
If the employee terminates the employment relationship, then the onus is on the employee to establish that there was a necessitous reason.
Further, the employee has to prove that s/he tried to resolve the situation before terminating the employment relationship.
For example, if an employee is being subjected to sexual harassment and the employer fails to address and resolve the matter after being given notice, then the DUA may decide that the employee, who may feel compelled to quit, is entitled to unemployment benefits.
Need Your Application Approved? We Can Help.
If you need assistance getting the DUA to approve your application for unemployment benefits, we may be able to assist you in this matter. Call Davis & Davis, P.C., in North Reading at 978-276-9051 or email us your information.