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Actions speak louder than words: You say you were fired, you act like you quit? Don’t expect to win Iowa unemployment benefits


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10/2/2014
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If you want to get unemployment benefits in Iowa, you have to have lost your job through no fault of your own.  If you were fired, you have to have been fired for some reason other than your own misconduct.  If you quit, you have to have quit for some reason attributable to your employer.  The thing is, every case is different and it isn’t always clear whether a person quit, was fired, was laid off, or whether it was something else altogether.

Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Ackerman cleared things up somewhat in the case of Earl Harrison v. Artistic.  Mr. Harrison, the claimant, had gotten into an argument at a meeting with the owner of the plant he managed on January 2, 2014:

“The owner told him not to be a “smart ass” and the claimant said he did not want  to lose his temper so told the employer he would have to find someone else to do one of the jobs they were discussing and  walked out…. The claimant walked off the job without saying anything to anyone before leaving. He did not return to work the next day and never contacted the owner until January 13, 2014, when he sent an email. The claimant testified that he returned to work on January 6, 2014, but did not stay at work because he saw his personal items had been taken down in his office.”

Judge Ackerman determined that Mr. Harrison had voluntarily quit his job.  “Voluntary quit” requires evidence of intention to sever the employment relationship, and Mr. Harrison had shown his intention by walking out of the meeting and not demonstrating an intention to come back.  And at this appeal, Mr. Harrison failed to carry his burden of showing that he was fired.

What can you learn from this?  It is your responsibility to stay employed.  You can only get benefits if the reason you lost your job wasn’t your fault.  Even if you feel humbled and ashamed, you need to see if you can get your job back—if you were fired, see if you can get a written statement saying you were fired, same if you were laid off.  You need to make that first move.

It’s also important to know what you’re expected to prove on appeal.  It can be tough to navigate the procedural rules alone, and you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer to help you out.  I like to say to my clients, "Help me to help you."  If we can help you call the Lombardi Law Firm to speak with attorneys Steve Lombardi and Katrina Schaefer. We can be reached at 515-222-1110 or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected] We look forward to your call.

 



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