How To Defend Your Business From Unemployment Claims In Florida
How to Defend Your Business from Unemployment Claims in Florida
The best thing you can do to defend yourself from unemployment claims happens well before termination. To successfully defend against unemployment compensation claims, it is imperative to understand the unemployment compensation process and how to defend a claim for unemployment compensation.
The Unemployment Compensation Process
When an employee is terminated for whatever reason, they file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits through the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI), which is the responsible agency in Florida. AWI will request information from the employer as to reasons why the employee was separated. AWI reviews the employer’s response and makes an initial determination as to whether or not benefits will be paid. The initial determination is based on a number of factors. These include:
- Was the separation based on a business need or employee misconduct?
- Has the employee worked enough hours with your business to qualify for benefits?
The employee or employer has the right to appeal the initial determination. If either party appeals, a telephone hearing is scheduled with an Appeals Referee. Testimony is then presented by both parties through questioning by their counsel or representative. The Appeals Referee makes a written determination, which includes Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, as to whether the employee will receive unemployment compensation benefits for their claim.
Either party may appeal the Appeals Referee decision to the Unemployment Appeals Commission which is an appellate court. The Unemployment Appeals Commission can only consider evidence that was presented to the Appeals Referee. The role of the Unemployment Appeals Commission is only to determine whether or not the Appeals Referee made a correct decision based on the evidence presented and then issue a written opinion. The written opinion may also be appealed by either party, which then would be brought up to the District Court of Appeals or ultimately the State Supreme Court.
How To Defend Against A Claim For Unemployment Compensation
It is important to understand why an employee is disqualified from receiving benefits:
- An employee leaves work without good cause attributable to the employer… (F.S. 443.101(1))
- Good cause for leaving are circumstances that would impel the average, able-bodied, qualified worker to give up employment.
- An employee is discharged for misconduct connected with his or her work… (F.S. 443.101(1))
- If the discharge is due to misconduct connected with the individual’s work, consisting of drug use, as evidenced by a positive, confirmed test.
If an employee is terminated for violating a policy, it is important to establish that the policy exists, the employee knew of the policy, and the employee was reviewed of the policy. In the event you decide to appeal an unemployment compensation claim, your best position would be to use live witnesses and documents. Witnesses at the Appeals Referee hearing should have personal knowledge of the events leading to the employee’s termination. Using the most direct evidence possible, with the greatest degree of eyewitness testimony puts you in the best position to defend against unemployment claims.
FL Patel Law PLLC was founded by Attorney Kalpesh J. Patel to provide quality legal services to start-ups and small businesses in Florida. For questions on handling an unemployment claim in Florida or anything else, call (727) 279-5037 to request a consultation today.