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Unemployment Compensation

Por: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

State unemployment insurance law covers most employees. While you are working, your employer pays into the unemployment insurance fund. If you lose your job, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation.

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State unemployment insurance law covers most employees. While you are working, your employer pays into the unemployment insurance fund. If you lose your job, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation.

To be eligible for unemployment compensation, you must have worked 680 hours in either the last four completed calendar quarters, or the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. A calendar quarter is a three-month period (examples: January - March, April - June).

You must also be unemployed through no fault of your own. If you quit your job, you ordinarily cannot get unemployment compensation, unless you have a "good cause" to quit under state law. Before quitting your job, talk with a lawyer, union representative, or the Washington Employment Security Department about whether your reason for quitting might be "good cause" so you can quit and still get unemployment benefits.

Q:  Which worker probably qualifies for unemployment compensation – Monique or James?

Monique's employer transfers her to night shift. She works that shift for two months, but gets migraine headaches. Her doctor says these are related to the night work. She takes a doctor's note in to her employer and asks for day or swing shift work. It would not hurt the business in any way to switch her to days. The employer refuses. She quits.

James' employer transfers him to night shift. He quits right away, telling his employer that he cannot stand working nights.

A:  Monique.

If your employer fires you or lays you off, you will qualify for unemployment compensation unless the employer fired you for "misconduct."  Misconduct means you acted in willful disregard of the employer's interest and hurt the employer's business. Your act must be intentional, grossly negligent (really reckless) or take place after a warning against it. Mere incompetence or a mistake in judgment is not misconduct.

Q:  Which worker probably qualifies for unemployment compensation – Hannah or Karen?

Hannah works at a jewelry store. She loses $5,000 worth of diamonds because she did not log the diamonds and put them in the safe. She did not steal the diamonds. She did not mean to hurt her employer by not logging and storing the diamonds. Her employer fires her. Hannah applies for unemployment compensation.

Karen's employer has a rule that a worker must give 48 hours' notice before taking vacation time. Karen has violated the rule before and has received written notices telling her she must follow the rule. She violates it again. The employer fires her. Karen applies for unemployment compensation.

A:  Hannah.

To qualify for unemployment compensation, you must be able, available and willing to work. You normally show this by filling out a claim form and then submitting continued claim forms during your unemployment. If you have lost your job due to domestic violence, you may still be able to qualify for unemployment compensation.

If you apply for unemployment compensation and L& I denies you, you should file an appeal at the unemployment office or job service center. In a few weeks, you can tell your side of the story at a hearing before an administrative law judge. Many hearings take place by phone. When you file your appeal at the job service center, ask for a complete copy of your unemployment file.

If you are low-income and would like help with your hearing, call the Unemployment Law Project at (206) 441-9178 or 1-888-441-9178. (They help people all over the state, not just in the 206 area code.)
The hearing is the most important part of the appeal process. It is your only chance to tell your side of the story. You should bring witnesses and present documents at the hearing.

 

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. 
This information is correct as of March 2015.

© 2015 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Última revisión y actualización: Mar 17, 2015
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