The Purpose of Unemployment Benefits is to Compensate Individuals Who Have Lost Their Job Through No Fault of Their Own.

As such, someone who is laid off for lack of work is going to be eligible for benefits.  In a situation where an employee is terminated for performance problems or disciplinary reasons, the employee’s entitlement to unemployment benefits will rest on whether the employee was discharged for just cause.  However, it is not always easy to understand what amounts to just cause.

Generally, if an employee is on notice that their conduct violates an applicable company rule and the company has followed its discipline policy, an employee will not be entitled to unemployment benefits.  If an employer has not followed its own discipline policy, then an employee may be entitled to benefits.  But it is not uncommon for an employee and the company to see things differently. 

An employee who resigns is also not entitled to unemployment benefits, because it was that employee’s voluntary conduct that led to their unemployment.  The exception to this would be if the employee can demonstrate that they quit their job for just cause.  Just cause in those circumstances would generally involve the employee having to demonstrate that they were put in an untenable position that would make it unreasonable for them to continue working.  Simply being unhappy in your job would not meet this burden.  You would have to show that the employer was engaging in some type of improper or illegal conduct that put the employee’s well-being at risk.

Unemployment claims are initially filed with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).  After an employee files a claim, ODJFS will reach out to the company to get information about what led to the employee’s separation from employment.  Based upon the information ODJFS receives from the employee and the company, a determination will be made about whether the employee is entitled to unemployment benefits.  If either the employee or the company disagrees with the determination, an appeal can be filed. ODJFS has strict deadlines for filing an appeal and if an appeal is not timely filed, it will not be considered. The appeal process can be confusing, especially if an employee is going through this process for the first time.  If either side continues to appeal the determination, the matter will ultimately be transferred to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission.  At that point a hearing would be scheduled before a Hearing Officer who will ask questions, take testimony from witnesses and issue a written decision.  If either side disagrees with the Hearing Officer’s decision, there are some limited opportunities for further appeal.  Ohio Revised Code 4141.282 provides a party the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas if a party feels the decision was unlawful, unreasonable or against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Having an attorney to assist you can take some of the difficulty out of this process.  If you have lost your job and feel you are entitled to unemployment benefits, contact Dworken & Bernstein to set up a free consultation.

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