It's hard enough to lose a job. But for a growing proportion of U.S. workers, the troubles really set in when they apply for unemployment benefits.The first time it happened I was working for a company that was in a death spiral. It was a privately owned firm, and the owner had decided he'd rather snort the company's assets than make payroll. All it took was one paycheck bouncing, and about half a dozen of us walked. Maybe the cocaine had addled his brain enough that he was still in denial his company was tanking, but he appealed and based it on the claim we'd quit for no reason.
More than a quarter of people applying for such claims have their rights to the benefit challenged as employers increasingly act to block payouts to former workers.
Fortunately, the unemployment commission quickly ruled that the one fundamental right of every employee is to be paid for the work he or she does -- when the paychecks bounced, we had cause for leaving.
The second time it happened the situation was a little murkier, the company was much, much bigger, and it took a formal hearing with a state unemployment commission referee and several attorneys (one for me, a whole herd for the large, nasty corporation), but in the end I got my checks. One of these days I'll have to do a post on how I managed to cost Harrahs half a mil in attorneys' fees . . . bottom line to management, (and this is just focusing on purely pragmatic issues and ignoring the moral and ethical): never ever screw over your workers no matter how humble the position they may have in the organization because you can never know just how stubborn they're going to be about screwing you in return. Payback is a bitch.
As the whole nasty process unfolded, I learned anecdotally that the large nasty corporation (aka Harrahs) had the reputation in Reno of never, ever letting anyone collect unemployment insurance benefits no matter what the reason was for the employee's departure. Didn't matter, for example, if you were let go because business was slow and they were overstaffed -- they'd still tell the unemployment commission the employee was fired for cause. I've worked for some truly crappy companies and/or bosses over the years, but as companies go Harrahs still tops the list as being the worst. After all, unlike the cokehead's small business, no one in management could use drug addiction as an excuse.