Employer denies involuntary leave in layoff with severance choice

I was recently laid off and offered a severance package. There are two options, take a lump sum payment or a weekly payment. If I take the lump, my employer states that they will consider this a voluntary termination and deny my unemployment compensation claim. If I take the weekly, they attached many many stipulations on how I am paid and the many things that I can do or happen to lose the money I will be getting paid (such as geting another job, being offered a different job with the company, subtracting any unemployment collected, etc) . It looks like they are trying to find any reason not to pay any of it. Also they are really really pushing the weekly benefits.

My main concern is that can they really deny my unemployment claim? It was a mass layoff with no hope of recalls and no option of any other employment.

1 answer  |  asked Jan 25, 2003 4:24 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
They can oppose unemployment, but may not be able to defeat it.

If you are referring to the Supplemental Unemployment Compensation Benefit offered by a large Akron employer in connectin with the layoff of about 350 salaried employees, this employer is taking the position that you will "voluntarily quit" if you elect a lump sum benefit but will be "involuntarily terminated" if you elect periodic payments subject to offset. The difference is that you are eligible for unemployment compensation benefits if involuntarily terminated, but not if you voluntarily quit.

The flaw with this approach is that, in reality, you were involuntarily terminated. That is, could you go to work today, or would you be turned away at the door? If you cannot go to work despite your desire to do so, you have been involuntarily terminated.

Unemployment compensation looks at the reality of the termination, not how the employer "deems" it. However, this employer is stating that it will oppose your claim based on the voluntariness of your election. We expect to fight that fight on behalf of a growing number of employees who, like you, want to elect the lump sum.

For now, a conservative approach is to decide whether to elect the lump sum based on the assumption that you will not receive unemployment compensation benefits. If you so elect, be sure to apply for unemployment and pursue all the appeals, as this employer will oppose your claim.

The legal issue is straightforward and will be common to anyone who elects the lump sum. You might consider contacting any other employee in the same shoes as you to see if you can share the burden of pursuing your benefits. Feel free to contact me at 330.665.5445 if you would like to consider having us represent you in this matter.



posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jan 27, 2003 09:30 AM [EST]

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