Here’s more inside scoop from the continuing education course on employment and labor law for attorneys I recently attended.
Lessons learned, Part 3:
Unemployment Insurance Claims
This one I found particularly interesting. When I used to represent very large employers (think Fortune 500), this topic never came up. Now that I represent small/medium businesses, it’s a weekly occurrence. It seems unemployment insurance claims are near and dear to your hearts.
And I get it. Employee quit or was fired for good reason. You don’t want your unemployment insurance reserve account to be hit or you just don’t think the employee should get a free ride. I’m with you. We’re business owners.
But I generally advise my clients don’t base discipline/termination decisions on defeating unemployment insurance claims. And, I will usually try to talk my clients out of challenging unemployment insurance benefits.
As business owners, let’s make good cost/benefit decisions. And that concept goes for employee legal issues. Let’s not fight based on “principle,” particularly not on an unemployment insurance claim.
I’ve always had my own reasons for this. And there are many, including the aforementioned “cost/benefit” of time and resources spent on a relatively minor issue. Stirring it up with the employee so they find a lawyer to go sue you for something more serious is another one. Putting evidence before the EDD, or omitting to put evidence before the EDD, that can hurt you in a discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination case (totally separate from unemployment insurance claims) is a third.
But the plaintiff’s attorney panelist for the course brought it all home.
He basically said he learns of many wage and hour lawsuits or other employee lawsuits from employees calling him solely about an unemployment insurance claim (imagine a big Cheshire cat grin on his face). When an employee calls his firm on a unemployment insurance claim, his firm asks the employee all kinds of other questions to see if there are other employee claims, such as wage and hour issues and class action issues. What starts off as a call about a minor unemployment insurance issue balloons into a significant employee claim or claims (imagine a ridiculously big Cheshire cat grin on his face).
Thus, it became crystal clear to me. Think first, and then again, before you challenge that unemployment insurance claim. And if you still want to do so, consult an experienced employment attorney.
Even when all the employee wants is their unemployment insurance, if they call a plaintiff’s attorney, the attorney will make a mountain out of a molehill.