LEGAL MATTERS: Navigating the Unemployment System
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
When an employee loses their job through no fault of his or her own, the Rhode Island Employment Security Act provides substantial protection to that employee. While it is not difficult to comply with the Act, claimants often miss deadlines and/or other requirements due to inattention and misunderstandings.
Under the law, claimants must contact the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) by the end of the week following the week for which the claimant is seeking to establish waiting period credit or benefits.
Claimants are then required to “report in” each week that during the past week they were available and looking for work. This can be done two ways, either by the TeleServe Automated Payment System or online after a PIN number is established by phone using TeleServe. Claimants MUST comply with this requirement. Those who fail to comply with these requirements can have their benefits denied and will then have to show “good cause” as to why they missed reporting.
Appealing a Denial or Benefit Halt
There are a variety of reasons why claimants are denied benefits or have their benefits halted. If a claimant is denied benefits or have their benefits halted for any reason, he or she will receive a notice in the mail. The notice will set forth the exact reason benefits are being denied or halted. A claimant, however, can appeal this action and request a hearing before the DLT Board of Review. To appeal, the claimant must file a written notice of appeal with the department within 15 days after the mailing date on the denial notice. It is important to note that the date to which they are referring is the date in the upper right hand corner of the notice that states “Mailing Date”. It is NOT the date on the outside of the envelope.
Once the appeal if filed, the claimant will receive a notice of the hearing date. At the hearing, a neutral, third party – called a Referee -- will hear evidence from the claimant, the employer if relevant and/or the DLT if relevant. The Referee will consider what is in the file and any newly offered relevant evidence such as documents, photographs, letters, company policy and witness testimony. If the claimant believes he or she has any evidence supporting his or her claim, it should be brought to the hearing.
Following the hearing before the Referee, a decision will be mailed to the claimant. If, after reviewing this decision, the claimant is still dissatisfied, another appeal may be filed. That appeal process is explained on the bottom of the Referee decision.
The foregoing is offered for informational purposes only and is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.
Susan G. Pegden is a litigation associate with the Law Firm of Hamel, Waxler, Allen & Collins in Providence. She is admitted to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Rhode Island Association of Justice (RIAJ) and a member of the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association.
Sean P. Feeney is a partner with the Law Firm of Hamel, Waxler, Allen & Collins. He is admitted to practice in Rhode Island, Illinois and Wisconsin. Mr. Feeney is a former special counsel to the City of Providence, military prosecutor with the United States Marine Corps and Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California.
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