Position elimination vs Quitting

My job was eliminated and then I was given a servance package; and now my former employer is denying my unemployment benefits. I was originally getting unemployment benefits, but then 2 months later unemployment sent me a letter stating that my employer said I quit. I filled out the questionaire for PA UC that was requested on my part and my former employer never sent PA UC the information they requested. I have my severance agreement stating that my severance pay would not prevent me from getting unemployment. Did they breech the agreement that we both orginally signed?

4 answers  |  asked May 26, 2010 08:04 AM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (4)

Christopher Ezold
Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, I agree with the other answers. The primary issue is not whether the employer breached its agreement - it is whether you are eligible for unemployment as determined by the Unemployment Compensation Bureau. Any damages you might obtain from any breach of contract action would likely be the amount of unemployment that was denied to you - and if you don't appeal, the denial might arguably be your fault.

I've never seen a claim for breach of contract against an employer for opposing unemployment; I believe because it would likely be an illegal contract as you cannot contract to avoid providing information in response to a lawful government request.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  May 26, 2010 1:02 PM [EST]
Mardi Harrison
I agree with Harold. In fact, in situations like this, the employer often does not bother to show up at the referee hearing. However, even if that happens, the hearing is still held, and you will still be required to prove to the referee that you qualify for benefits. From your description, it sounds like you have the documents to prove your position.

posted by Mardi Harrison  |  May 26, 2010 10:12 AM [EST]
Doris Dabrowski
The Unemployment Compensation Bureau, not your former employer, determines eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits. Your former employer may provide documents or statements to the Unemployment Compensation Bureau regarding the reasons for the loss of your prior job. If the Unemployment Compensation Bureau issues a decision denying you benefits, you must file a timely appeal.

posted by Doris Dabrowski  |  May 26, 2010 08:38 AM [EST]
Harold Goldner
It is possible that they breached the agreement, however, language in severance agreements discussing posture for UC claims may, itself, violate the law.

The best approach is to appeal the denial of benefits immediately (you only have 15 days) and secure counsel to represent you at the hearing. The burden of proof is going to be on the employer, and if it's a lay-off, regardless of whether severance pay was extended, you are going to qualify for benefits.

posted by Harold Goldner  |  May 26, 2010 08:08 AM [EST]

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