Under what circumstances can I collect unemployment compensation benefits?

Assuming you qualify for benefits, Ohio law presumes you are entitled to collect unemployment compensation unless you are disqualified for one of the reasons spelled out in Section 4141.29 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Generally, you are eligible for unemployment compensation benefits in the State of Ohio if you worked for an Ohio-based employer for at least 26 weeks in the 78 weeks leading to the loss of your job, you otherwise remain eligible for benefits under other technical requirements of the law, and you file a complete application for benefits in the manner prescribed by Section 4141.28 of the Ohio Revised Code.

You will receive unemployment compensation benefits unless any of the following applies to you:

  • Your unemployment resulted from a labor dispute (unless the dispute resulted in an employer lock-out), involves a location other than the one at which the dispute exists, or your employer is not involved in the dispute that forced the employer’s business to cease operations

  • You were laid off for misconduct in connection with your work

  • You quit your job without just cause or were discharged for just cause in connection with your work

  • You refused without good cause to accept an offer of suitable work when made by an employer or refused or failed to investigate a referral to suitable work when directed to do so by any state’s employment office, unless your refusal was within your rights under a union contract or you were attending a qualifying vocational training course at the time the referral was made to you

  • Your unemployment resulted from your having been sent to jail

  • You became unemployed due to your having committed “substantive theft,” fraud, or deceitful acts in connection with any base period work

If you do not fall into one of the six categories listed above, you are “not disqualified” from getting unemployment compensation benefits.

Prospective clients will call my office and want to sue their former employers for wrongful discharge or wrongful termination based on the letter they receive from state officials confirming the approval of their application for benefits because they were not “discharged for just cause” in connection with their work. Prospective clients routinely misinterpret this phrase to mean that a state agency has found that they were terminated “without just cause” and a claim for wrongful discharge or wrongful termination should be an easy one to bring and win.

If you receive a letter approving your claim for unemployment compensation benefits, please recognize that the language used by the agency in writing the letter is lifted directly from the statute that establishes the grounds for disqualification. If you are “not disqualified,” you receive benefits. So, finding that you were not “discharged for just cause” simply means that you will not be disqualified from receiving such benefits.

Any party who disagrees with the administrative decision allowing or disallowing a claim for unemployment benefits has the right to take a series of appeals from that decision. An employee rights lawyer can help you with the evidentiary hearing that will be conducted on your appeal.

If you are faced with the prospects of an appeal, you should consider contacting us today to see if we can handle your case for you or at least can help you through the process of representing yourself and knowing what evidence you will need to present and what arguments you will need to make to improve your chances of success.

You may very well have a claim for wrongful discharge or wrongful termination, employment discrimination, harassment, “whistleblowing,” retaliation, unpaid wages, or a grievance that could be filed under your union contract. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at a time convenient to your schedule if you think you may have any of these claims for post-termination remedies.

My employer gave me the option of resigning or being fired. Should I resign? Can I still sue my employer after I resign?

Under Ohio law, a resignation—even if coerced—will pose a significant hurdle to the prospects for success in enforcing an employee’s rights and in bringing any case he or she might want to bring in the future. The law generally affords no post-termination remedies to an individual against their former employer where the employee has voluntarily resigned their position.

When a voluntary resignation takes place, the former employee can recover only if they could provide clear proof to the effect that no reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities would have continued to work under the conditions presented by the employer.

For example, an employee is not required to continue providing services where their employer insists tasks are performed that:

  • Would put the employee in harm’s way

  • Would constitute criminal or otherwise unlawful behavior

  • Would expose the employee to revocation of a license

  • Would require the employee to engage in acts of moral turpitude

  • Would require the employee to expose co-workers, members of the public, business invitees, or the like to personal injury, property damage, or any of the other types of misconduct mentioned above

Where any of these things occur, the employer is deemed to have “constructively discharged” the employee, meaning the resignation is treated as if the termination of the employee’s job had been initiated by the employer because of the employer’s conduct or indifference to job conditions that would cause any reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities to resign rather than continue to subject themselves to the risks, embarrassment, humiliation, or personal threats attached to carrying out the employer’s wishes.

A resignation will also complicate your claim for unemployment compensation. Generally, an employee who quits his or her job is treated as someone who voluntarily left the workforce or job market, and the state will not pay unemployment benefits to such an individual.

An attorney experienced in representing the rights of employees can negotiate terms in a severance or separation agreement that will reserve the right to make an unemployment compensation claim without risking a successful challenge by the employer to the employee’s eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits.