Unemployment benefits are a necessity for any worker who has been terminated or who quit their job due to reasons attributable to the employer. Most often, however, claimants for these benefits are denied at the initial fact-finding interview, even when there is merit to their claim and when they should in fact receive benefits. A denial at this stage requires the claimant to then appeal and this leads to a hearing before an administrative law judge. This hearing is by phone (unless requested to be in person) and the testimony is under oath. The claimant also has the opportunity to present evidence in the form of exhibits. We have represented many claimants in these appeal hearings, but claimants can successfully argue their case on their own if they are armed with important information on Iowa law.
First, the two categories that are examined in an appeal hearing are 1) whether you were terminated for misconduct, and 2) whether you voluntarily quit. If either one of these are true in your case, you will not be eligible for benefits. If, however, you can successfully prove that these are not true in your case, you should be eligible for benefits.
MISCONDUCT: An employer has the right to terminate an employee "at will" in most cases (unless a contract of employment exits). This means that you cannot argue that they were wrong for terminating you, but you can argue that they did not have reason to terminate you for your bad behavior or misconduct. If no misconduct occurred, you will be eligible for benefits. Additionally, minor instances of "mistakes" or "wrong behavior" may be good cause to terminate, but that does not mean that it rises to the level of "serious misconduct" that must have occurred to deny a claimant unemployment benefits. This is an important distinction that each claimant must understand in order to argue their case successfully. Finally, the burden is on the employer to prove that "serious misconduct" occurred in order for benefits to be denied. It is not the job of the claimant to disprove the claim of misconduct.
VOLUNTARY QUIT/RESIGNATION: Normally, if an employee quits, they are not eligible for benefits. However, there are several instances where they may be eligible. This is the case where the employee quit due to "good cause attributable to the employer." This is the case where the work environment was harmful to the employee and the employer refused to make adjustments, or where the employee's health was otherwise in jeopardy if they stayed at the job, for example. The burden to prove that a quit was with "good cause" or was otherwise "not voluntary" is on the claimant to prove.
We can assist in pointing you to the right sections of Iowa law to help you in proving your case. Contact us today so we can help you win your own case.