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In most states, the labor laws allow employers to terminate any employees unless there is a written agreement saying otherwise. While you may be terminated for a number of reasons, you can only collect unemployment if you weren’t fired for cause. When you apply for unemployment benefits, the state verifies the reason for your job separation with the former employer. If the version of events differs, the employer has to prove you were fired for cause to prevent you from collecting benefits.
Being terminated from a job can apply to several different situations. An employer might terminate you if he can’t afford to keep you or your department on the payroll anymore. You may also be terminated if the entire company goes out of business. These types of terminations are usually called layoffs. On the other hand, an employer might terminate you because you violated a company rule or committed an act of misconduct. This type of termination is generally called a firing. Essentially, a termination just means that that the employer initiated the job separation.
Reason for Job Separation
The reason for your termination plays an important role in whether you can collect unemployment benefits. Your employer can terminate you at any time for any reason unless you have a contract stating otherwise. However, you can only collect unemployment benefits if you were terminated for a reason other than just cause. Cause can vary by state, but being fired for theft, insubordination or other forms of misconduct generally disqualifies you from benefits.
When you apply for unemployment benefits, the state asks you to explain why you are unemployed. Then it contacts your last employer for its version of events. If the employer says you were fired for cause, the state asks for more information from both you and your former employer. Then it makes a decision and mails it to you. Both you and the employer have a right to appeal that decision and present evidence to validate your side of the claim at additional hearings.
When an employer terminates you, the burden of proving it was for cause lies with them. The state will ask for evidence of the issue that caused your termination. If the employer can’t provide evidence, you usually receive your unemployment benefits. If the employer can provide evidence, you can present your own evidence to refute it. You might use written communication between you and your employer, a notarized witness statement or other items to prove the reason you left the job was not because you were terminated for cause.
Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.