Ask a California employment lawyer:
I was fired for making a mistake. Will I get unemployment insurance?
You’ve suddenly found yourself unemployed. While you contemplate your next course of action, you start to wonder whether or not you’ll be survive without an income. Fear not! Receiving unemployment benefits in California is easier than you think.
My boss told me I don’t have a right to unemployment. Is that true?
Your boss has no right to decide whether or not you receive unemployment benefits. That decision is made by the Employment Development Department (“EDD”). Your workplace doesn’t want you to know this, but receiving unemployment benefits isn’t that hard.
You’ll receive your unemployment benefits as long as you were involuntarily terminated through no misconduct of your own.
You’ll receive your unemployment benefits as long as you were involuntarily terminated through no misconduct of your own, are physically able to work, are actively seeking work, and are ready to accept work.
“Misconduct” generally means more than coming in late or making a mistake, so don’t let your employer push you around or scare you away from money that belongs to you. Even if you received a write-up for something and you were on “thin ice” when you committed the same mistake again, that doesn’t mean you intended to commit misconduct or that you did in fact commit misconduct.
But be careful! It’s important to be honest with the unemployment department regarding your reasons for termination. The unemployment department may deny your claim on the grounds if you were dishonest with them -- sometimes even when you said something on accident during your phone interview.
(If you want help in filling out your unemployment insurance application and preparing for your interview so that you have the best chance of receiving benefits, we charge a flat fee for that service.)
You quit your job. Do you still have rights?
It depends. If you quit your job, you must show the EDD that you were “constructively terminated.” This means that the workplace conditions became so unbearable that no reasonable person should be forced to endure such an unhealthy job environment. You’ll need to show that you attempted all reasonable alternatives to leaving, but that leaving was the only option. For example, you might say that you had to leave due to unsafe working conditions, or based on a medical doctor’s advice.
If your boss has been excessively bullying you, you could be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If your boss has been excessively bullying you so that your health is in danger if you continue working, you could be eligible for unemployment benefits. I once represented a client whose boss had a drug problem. He would call my client into the office and start screaming at him and make intimidating gestures.
Our client’s blood pressure rose at the thought of going to work every day. He had no other option but to quit. The EDD initially said my client didn’t qualify for benefits because he quit his job. However, after we attended his unemployment appeals hearing, the judge saw it our way, and ordered the EDD to provide my client benefits. It was legally clear that he had no choice but to quit in order to save his health.
You are sick or injured. Do you still have rights to unemployment?
In order to receive unemployment insurance benefits, you must be physically able to work, available for work, and ready and willing to immediately accept work. If you aren’t healthy, you may be entitled to disability benefits. In fact, qualification for disability benefits are decided by the same EDD department as unemployment insurance.
If you aren’t healthy, you may be entitled to disability benefits.
California’s State Disability Insurance (“SDI”) program provides short-term benefits if you have lost wages because you are unable to work due to an illness or injury. If you think you qualify, you should apply for SDI benefits until you recover. Then, you can apply for EDD benefits.
You’ve been denied unemployment benefits. What are your rights?
Ouch. You received a notice of determination from the EDD stating you were denied unemployment benefits. Don’t despair. Lots of people are initially denied benefits, but benefits are granted after they appeal the determination.
You have a right to appeal the EDD decision within 20 days of the mailing date of the notice of determination. You must mail your appeal to the return address shown on the notice, along with the appeal form included in the notice. After sending the appeal, the Office of Appeals will notify you of a time and place of a hearing. The hearing is a new chance to present evidence and explain things which may have been misunderstood before.
If you’ve been denied unemployment benefits, call us! We can help!
We can help you fight for justice.
When your employer wrongfully discriminates against you or harasses you, and you lose your job, you can feel hopeless. Employers should not get away with it! By standing up for your rights, you are standing up for yourself. You are also standing up for everyone who has ever suffered the injustice of an employer keeping earned wages.
Please make an appointment for a free consultation in our Newport Beach office. You can contact us by email or phone. We want to help.