If you’re accepting Iowa unemployment benefits, then you should know that not only do you have to look for work, you have to accept suitable employment.  If you turn down a perfectly good job offer, you can kiss your unemployment benefits goodbye.

"I fight for people, not corporations. We represent families not corporate CEO's. We put food on the dinner table not snacks in the Board room." Attorney Steve Lombardi

According to this reported decision on January 7, 2014, Leslie Washpun was offered work at General Mills, but unwittingly passed up the job due to his phone not receiving or recording the message.  Mr. Washpun’s employer, Remedy Intelligent Staffing, argued that because he “refused suitable work”, he is ineligible for unemployment benefits.  However, Mr. Washpun didn’t file his claim for unemployment benefits until February 2nd.    

On April 1st, Administrative Law Judge Beth A. Scheetz found for Mr. Washpun, quoting Iowa law: “Both the offer of work or the order to apply for work and the claimant's accompanying refusal must occur within the individual's benefit year.”  The “benefit year” is the period for which a person may accept unemployment benefits, and typically starts the week that a claimant files his claim for unemployment benefits.  Mr. Washpun had clearly not begun his benefit year when he did what Remedy called “refusing suitable work.”

The judge didn’t address the fact that Mr. Washpun never received the message offering him work, and we don’t know how the judge would decide if Mr. Washpun had already applied for unemployment benefits when his phone missed that call.  Because of this uncertainty, you should still make sure that the contact information you give to potential employers is in good working order and that you check it frequently.  For issues like this, where it just isn’t clear where the law should come out, it’s omportant to have a lawyer on your side.

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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