How do I fight unemployment disqualification if it was a voluntary quit?

I worked for employer for 2 1/2 yrs. Began as 1099, then salaried, then the company started suffering financial difficulties & required me to take an Independent Contractor status. I went from a salaried employee contract of $48k/yr & full benefits to barely $200/wk w/no benefits & 1099 status.
Employer did not make timely payments, twice holding checks for 5 wks. (Pay was to be biweekly).
I was told I had to take the 1099 status to retain my job, but would remain on same pay rate. The 1099 contract is in writing, but there was no pay rate included in contract. However, there was payment of invoices at that rate, so doesn't that show that it was agreed?
The second time checks were held for 5 weeks the employer asked me to take partial payment until more money was made & they would then pay balance. This balance has still not been paid.
We then went to weekly pay. I submitted invoice for time worked, but it was not paid on time. Employer stated that they felt pay rate was too high, although this was what they had paid every week until then. Employer had also agreed to pay for 'milestones' on additional projects given, but that pay was denied when submitted, employer stated they had changed their mind and only wanted to pay on completed projects now. Employer would not release check.
The following week hours were then cut & agreement made that the pay would be $200/wk for that amount of hours. Checks would not be released until I agreed to make the amount retroactive to prior week although I had worked the additional hours before agreement was made.
At this point I no longer had any trust in employer's word. I explained this to Assistant to CEO & voiced my concerns over the entire chain of events. I then said I would not continue working this way and would not take any more work...leaving the job.
I stated all of this in my Unemployment app, but was disqualified. Everyone I spoke to at UI said I would qualify with the circumstances...I was very scared to leave the job, but they would not give me any more info until I "separated myself from the employer".
I'm a single mom of 4 and have NO way to make bills. I am planning on appealing...but what do I say? I can't understand how they can validate employer's actions. Please help.

1 answer  |  asked Nov 8, 2009 4:05 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Ordinarily you will not qualify for unemployment if you quit voluntarily. To qualify, you must convince the administrative law judge who is hearing your appeal that the facts leading to your resignation constitute a "constructive discharge." One form of constructive discharge that has been recognized for unemployment compensation purposes is a drastic reduction in earnings. The employer's decision to make you a "1099" contractor was not a legitimate act unless it involved substantially more freedom than you had as an employee. If your duties remained the same, you were still an employee for purposes of being covered by unemployment insurance. I would recommend that you explain the facts to the judge, emphasizing the drastic reduction in pay and the other unfavorable treatment, and hope that he or she finds it to be a constructive discharge.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Nov 9, 2009 11:32 AM [EST]

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