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Can You Get Unemployment If You Get Fired?

Can you get unemployment if you get fired 2

Recently fired from your job? Unfortunately, it happens to even the best of us sometimes. You may wonder, “can you get unemployment if you get fired?” In most cases, yes. However, there are exceptions that can affect your eligibility, so it’s important to understand these exceptions. We’ll examine the basics of unemployment insurance as it pertains to being let go and give you tips on figuring out if you’re eligible for benefits. 

How does unemployment work?

Unemployment insurance (UI) or unemployment benefits, is a government-provided insurance that allows you to temporarily receive a portion of your wages while you search for new work. It was created in 1935 as a form of social insurance where taxes collected from employers are paid into the unemployment system on behalf of working people to provide income support should they lose their jobs. Even though the U.S Department of Labor oversees the system, the basic unemployment insurance program is run by the states. 

Who qualifies for unemployment benefits? 

Unemployment is available to individuals who are temporarily unemployed, without fault of their own. While the basic structure of unemployment generally stays the same from state to state, each state sets its own eligibility requirements, benefits, and filing procedures. 

Unemployment eligibility requirements

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must apply for unemployment in the state in which you reside and meet a few general requirements: 

  • You must be unemployed or working part-time
  • You must have worked in the state you’re applying for during the past 12-18 months 
  • You can legally work
  • You’re available for work
  • Earn a minimum amount of wages as determined by your state’s guidelines
  • You must actively seek full-time employment every week you collect benefits 

By meeting these requirements, you can receive unemployment benefits and avoid unemployment fraud. If any one of the requirements changes, you may no longer be eligible. 

Can I get unemployment if I was fired for performance reasons? 

The answer to this question depends on the state in which you live and the specific circumstances of your firing. Generally speaking, if you were fired for poor performance, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits either entirely or for a short time (disqualification period). The definition of poor performance or work misconduct varies from state to state. In some states, you’re still eligible even if you lacked the skillset to perform your job or weren’t a good fit for the job. 

If you can demonstrate that you were fired due to factors beyond your control, such as a change in company policy or a reduction in the workforce, you may be able to collect unemployment. It is always best to speak with an attorney or unemployment specialist before filing a claim, as they will be able to advise you on the specific laws in your state and help you build the strongest possible case.

Common scenarios rendering an individual ineligible for unemployment benefits include:

  • Theft: theft is a serious crime. Any employee fired for stealing from the business in question or from coworkers may not receive unemployment benefits. 
  • Positive drug or alcohol test: In most states, failing a drug or alcohol test means you can’t receive unemployment benefits. Similarly, refusing to take a test can also disqualify you.
  • Violating safety protocols: Employees who make a careless mistake may still be eligible for benefits, but employees who intentionally go against safety protocols may be disqualified. 
  • Excessive absenteeism: Employees who don’t show up for their scheduled shifts may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. 
  • Breaking the law: Employees who commit crimes on the job like sexually assaulting a coworker or destroying company property can be disqualified. 

If you disqualify for unemployment, it may not be forever as some states have a disqualification period. Once the disqualification period is over, an individual can apply for unemployment. 

In every state, there is a minimum earnings requirement. The state looks at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year period (base period) to determine eligibility. In most states, the base period is the earliest four of five complete calendar quarters before you filed for benefits.  

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have earned wages in at least two quarters of the base period and you must have:

To see if you meet the criteria for unemployment in your state, visit this link to view your state’s requirements.

What are the rights of fired employees?

what are the rights of fired employees

When an employee is fired, they may feel confused and uncertain about their rights. However, it is important to know that all employees have certain protections under the law. 

For instance, private employment is “at will” so, in most instances, employers can terminate employees at any time, though they are prohibited from firing employees based on their race, religion, gender, or other protected characteristic. 

If an employer does not have a valid reason for firing an employee, the employee may be able to file a wrongful termination claim. Finally, employees who are fired may be entitled to severance pay or continuation of their health insurance coverage. 

Other rights include:

  • Receipt of the final paycheck
  • Advance notification before the closing of a business or a mass layoff

Understanding the rights of fired employees can help to ensure that they are treated fairly and receive the compensation they are entitled to.


Can employers contest an unemployment claim? 

Generally, employers can contest unemployment claims if they have grounds to believe that the claimant is not eligible for benefits. For example, if an employer believes that an employee was fired for misconduct, they may contest the claim on those grounds. Employers may also contest claims if they believe that the employee quit voluntarily or if the employee is still working part-time for the company. 

In most cases, employers must file a Notice of Contest within 15 days of receiving notice of the claim. There also must be ample evidence to support the claim such as a termination letter, pay stubs, warning documents, and anything else that can help build the case.

If an employer does not contest a claim, they are generally required to pay unemployment benefits. However, in some cases, employers can recoup some of those benefits if the claimant is later found to be ineligible. 


How to File an Unemployment Claim

As with any process in the United States, it varies from state to state. But generally, you can file your claim either online or through the phone. 

You’re going to need to submit personal and employment information. 

Personal information includes your name, phone number, driver’s license number, social security number, and more. 

Employment information includes your 1-3 most recent employers, their address, and your dates of employment with earnings information. And if your employer didn’t provide your quarterly wages, you must submit pay stubs to show them. 

Once the unemployment agency (the acronym varies depending on the state) receives your application, you’ll receive letters in the mail stating your eligibility as well as a monetary determination providing your potential weekly benefit amount. To find your state’s unemployment claim filing information, go to the Department of Labor’s website.


How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits

In most states, you have 30 days to file a protest with unemployment. Then, unemployment considers your protest, they will issue a redetermination. If they deny your unemployment claim after redetermination, you can file an appeal with unemployment and request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Then, a hearing will be held for your appeal and you can testify, present witnesses, and offer evidence just like a regular trial. After you’ve pled your case, the ALJ will decide whether to accept or reject your claim. 

If you’re not satisfied with the outcome of your trial, you can appeal it to an appellate court. Then, if you aren’t satisfied with the results of the second appeal, you can file a lawsuit in state court.  

What’s the difference between being laid off vs fired?

What’s the difference between being laid off vs fired

The key difference between being laid off vs fired is fault. If you were fired, you were found at fault. If you’re laid off, the company is found at fault. Most layoffs occur when companies must cut costs, reduce staffing, or due to other reasons like mergers and acquisitions. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Receiving Unemployment Benefits

Can you collect unemployment if you resign? 

Yes, but it depends on the reason for leaving. In every state, employees who voluntarily quit a job without reasonable cause isn’t eligible for unemployment. That being said, each state has a different definition of “reasonable cause.” 

Can I get unemployment if I was fired for performance reasons? 

It depends on what state you live in and the specific circumstances of your firing. But generally, if you were fired for poor performance, you’re probably not eligible for unemployment benefits. 

How much is unemployment?

The monetary determination for unemployment compensation varies from state to state, but generally, it’s between $40-$450 per week. 

Can I apply for unemployment if I’m an immigrant? 

No. Unfortunately, most undocumented immigrants cannot collect unemployment benefits. However, in some states, immigrants may be eligible to receive assistance. 

Do unemployment benefits make me a public charge?

No, unemployment benefits won’t make you a public charge. A public charge means an alien who has received one or more public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period. 


If you have been fired from your job, you may be wondering if you are still eligible for unemployment benefits. The answer to this question depends on the reason why you were fired. In most cases, if you were terminated for misconduct or poor performance, you will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. However, if you were fired for reasons that were out of your control, such as layoffs or company closure, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. To find out more about your eligibility for unemployment benefits, contact your state’s Department of Labor.

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