Employees who are fired or laid off are not automatically granted unemployment benefits. If you terminated the employee for gross misconduct, you may be able to prevent a claim against your unemployment insurance. In order to successfully dispute an unemployment claim, you need to respond to the claim within your state's statutory time frame, usually 10 to 14 days. Under certain circumstances, you can request an extension of this deadline.
You will know if an employee files a claim for unemployment insurance when you receive the claim form from your state's department of labor or similar entity. The claim notice will specify how long you have to respond. This claim notice provides the name and Social Security number of the terminated employee, along with the form you will need to dispute the claim. If you are uncertain of the deadline to dispute an unemployment claim, contact your state's unemployment division immediately.
The response time to dispute an unemployment claim varies by state. In California, you have 10 days from the mailing date of the claim notice. In Texas, you have 14 calendar days from the date of the notice to respond. Federal law requires states to either pay or deny unemployment benefits promptly. States may grant extensions of the filing deadline if you can support your need for additional time.
Disputing the Claim
When you dispute an employee's claim for unemployment benefits, it is up to you to support your reasoning for gross misconduct to deny the claim. An example of gross misconduct would be firing a delivery driver who tested positive for illegal drugs. The driver could have been impaired while driving, resulting in an accident and putting the company at risk. Even if the driver did not use drugs while on the clock, his actions demonstrate gross misconduct.
Understand that the burden of proof to dispute an unemployment claim is on you, the employer. Your state's unemployment office will decide for the benefit of the claimant if you fail to respond in a timely fashion or do not substantiate your dispute with clearly supported facts and documentation. An unemployment claim that is not in your favor can result in higher unemployment insurance costs.
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