Employees in New Jersey might be entitled to unemployment benefits when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. These benefits function as a type of insurance. Employers pay into the unemployment program, and employees who are terminated or laid off can temporarily collect benefits until they find new jobs. However, some people will not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. You must meet the state’s guidelines to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If you have been terminated or laid off, you can file a claim with the state’s unemployment agency. The agency will review your claim, interview your former employer, and potentially interview you. The state will then decide whether you are eligible for benefits. Your former employer cannot deny your claim for benefits, but it can contest your claim and argue that you should not receive them. Here is some information about what to do if the state denies your claim for unemployment benefits based on the statements made by your former employer from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
How Do Employers Contest Claims for Unemployment Benefits?
When you file a claim for benefits, the state will contact your former employer. It will want to ensure that you meet the requirements to collect unemployment benefits. In New Jersey, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet the following requirements:
1. You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. If you voluntarily quit or were fired for good cause, your claim could be denied. However, if you were fired or laid off because of downsizing or something similar, you might be eligible for benefits.
2. You must have met the state’s minimum earning requirements. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have earned a minimum of $240 per week for 20 weeks during your base period or at least $12,000 during the covered employment period. If you have not been working for a significant amount of time or have worked very little, you might not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
3. You must be available and able to work. While you are receiving unemployment benefits, you will be required to actively look for work each week and submit proof of your efforts.
The state makes the decision to approve or deny your claim for unemployment benefits instead of your former employer. However, your former employer can contest your claim by presenting evidence to the state that you do not meet the eligibility requirements. For example, your former employer might argue that you voluntarily quit instead of being fired. Alternatively, your employer might argue that you earned less than the minimum required amount or didn’t work enough weeks during the base period.
If your employer objects to your claim for unemployment benefits and contradicts the claims that you made on your application, you will have an opportunity to present evidence to explain your side. The unemployment agency will schedule a hearing to resolve the problem.
Why Do Employers Contest Unemployment Claims?
Employers are required to pay taxes to pay into the unemployment system. Employers start at a specific rate, and after they have been participating in the unemployment system for a few years, they will be rated by the state. If an employer has received a number of valid claims for unemployment benefits, it will have to pay a higher unemployment tax rate. Employers that do not have claims or who have few claims will pay a lower tax rate. This means that employers have a financial incentive to challenge claims for unemployment benefits filed by their former employees.
Even though employers have an incentive to contest unemployment claims, most only contest illegitimate claims. Employers that contest all unemployment claims can tarnish their reputations among their employees and with the state unemployment agency.
Appealing a Denial of an Unemployment Benefits Claim
If the state denies your claim for unemployment benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. In New Jersey, you must file an appeal of an initial denial within seven days of when you receive it or within 10 days of when the deputy that made the determination issued it. You should receive an appeal form and information about how to file your appeal with your denial notice. If you do not, contact the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Unemployment Insurance.
When you file an appeal, you will need to explain why you believe that the state should have granted your claim. Once the state receives your appeal, the Division of Unemployment Insurance will schedule a hearing. Both you and your former employer will be allowed to present evidence and arguments. The hearing officer will then either grant or deny your claim for unemployment benefits. If you lose this appeal, you can file an appeal with the Board of Review. If you lose your appeal at the Board of Review, you can then appeal it to the New Jersey Appellate Division.
Talk to the Employment Attorneys at Swartz Swidler
Losing your job can be difficult, and it can be even harder if your former employer contests your claim for unemployment benefits. If the state has denied your unemployment claim based on statements made by your former employer, you should speak with the attorneys at Swartz Swidler about your case. Call us today for a free consultation at (856) 685-7420.