I quit my job. Does that mean I am not eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you quit your job, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits for a number of different reasons. However, you have the burden of proving that you are eligible for benefits. You may be eligible if you quit your job because it was hazardous to your health or due to urgent and compelling personal reasons. You may also be eligible if you quit because your employer significantly cut your hours, reduced your pay or changed the nature of your job. In most cases, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) requires that you make a reasonable effort to remedy the situation before leaving. You may also be eligible for benefits if you left your job because you were a victim of domestic violence or were subject to racial or sexual harassment at work.
My employer fired me. Does that mean I cannot collect unemployment benefits?
No, your employer has the burden of proving that you engaged in behavior that disqualifies you from receiving benefits. Your employer needs to show that you engaged in deliberate misconduct or that you broke a reasonable and uniformly enforced rule. You will not be disqualified for poor job performance unless your employer can show one of these two things.
What happens at an unemployment hearing?
If your former employer is present, the hearing officer will ask both you and the employer questions that relate to your case. If you are represented by a lawyer, the lawyer will also ask you questions designed to emphasize the strong points in your case. The employer or its attorney has the opportunity to cross-examine you. The employer's attorney can also ask its own witnesses questions. You or your lawyer will have the opportunity to cross-examine the employer.
Is it necessary to have a lawyer to win an unemployment hearing?
No. Unlike a court hearing, an unemployment hearing is an informal proceeding without complex procedural rules. The hearing officer is responsible for obtaining all the information he or she needs to make a decision. However, an attorney who knows the law can help you focus your testimony to emphasize the elements of your case that are the strongest. It can also be helpful to have an objective advocate who is able to stay focused on the law in what is often an emotional situation.
In addition to monetary benefits, are there any other benefits associated with unemployment compensation in Massachusetts?
Yes. In some circumstances, you may be eligible to collect additional benefits and/or have you work search requirements waived while enrolled in an approved job training program through Section 30 Training Benefits.