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Monday November 14, 2016

posted by Thomas A. Ebendorf
Tags: In the news 

Kentucky provides an opportunity for employees who lose their job to receive unemployment benefits. Benefits are paid to qualified individuals for a period of up to six (6) months following the termination and affords this individual an opportunity to find gainful employment. A person wishing to receive these benefits must initiate the process by filing a claim for unemployment benefits through the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, Division of Unemployment Insurance. In the application the former employee, now referred to as claimant, must state the facts surrounding the termination and make the request for benefits. This claim is submitted by the Unemployment Insurance Division to the former employer who is given 15 days to respond to the claim. There are two reasons why an employee would be disqualified from receiving benefits. If an employee has been terminated for misconduct or dishonesty connected with his job, this would disqualify the employee. Additionally, if the employee voluntary left his job without a good cause attributable to his employment, that fact would disqualify him from receiving benefits. Once the division receives the claim and the response of the employer, it will consider the matter and issue a Notice of Determination. If the division determines that the employee should not receive unemployment benefits, it will so advise the claimant and close its case.

A denial of benefits does not stop the process. If the claimant disagrees with the decision to deny benefits, the claimant has a right to file an appeal. The appeal consists of a brief written statement filed with the division setting forth the reasons why the claimant disagrees with this decision. A hearing will be scheduled, and the matter will be assigned to a hearing referee. Hearings are conducted by telephone and begin with the employer submitting its explanations for why the benefits should be denied, and the referee will then give the claimant an opportunity to present his evidence of why benefits should be awarded. Both parties will have been given the opportunity to file lists of witnesses and exhibits before the hearing is convened.

Once the hearing is terminated, the referee will issue a decision and may reinstate and award benefits or continue to deny them. If the benefits are denied by the referee, the claimant has one final shot at getting these benefits. The claimant has a right to file an appeal to the Kentucky Circuit Courts and have his matter reviewed by a Judge. Ultimately, the Circuit Court Judge’s opinion can be appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, so there are many opportunities to obtain these benefits.

The procedure is not difficult, and unless you are going to file an appeal in Circuit Court after the referee’s decision, it is not necessary to use an attorney. However, having an attorney to represent your interests at the referee’s hearing is not a bad idea.

A final word of caution is to be aware of what an employer must do to avoid unemployment benefits. Terminating an employee because the employer is dissatisfied with the employee’s work or doesn’t like the employee’s attitude is not considered misconduct. Likewise, an employee who is harassed and pushed off the job by inappropriate comments or difficulties in the workplace which essentially pushed the employee to “quit” is not generally considered a voluntary action. However, an employee who gets aggravated with his working situation and simply doesn’t want to do what the employer asks him to do and quits is not going to find much sympathy from the referee and will likely not receive benefits.