“My employer has not paid me in three months” says a coaching client who wants to make a career change. In fact, he is not receiving a paycheck and continues to work for the employer is surprising.

I won’t go into why he continues to work there, but the subject of leaving the employer and being eligible for unemployment is up for discussion.

Most, if not all states will disallow unemployment benefits if you quit a job. Technically, if he leaves the job without being fired or laid off, he has quit. However, there are extenuating circumstances and I believe he can make a case to receive unemployment benefits. It will take some perseverance and work.

Unemployment Insurance Process

One of my contacts within the NYS Labor Department says:

“Your contact has a compelling case, though we don’t make the determination on our end. The best route is twofold:

  1. Apply for benefits – Unemployment Insurance (UI) won’t make a ruling on eligibility until a claim is actually filed AND
  2. Call the Department of Human Rights (585-238-8250) to see what steps to take to get back pay.”

Once you make contact with the Unemployment Insurance, expect a return call with questions. Some of the questions may seem intrusive or excessive. Remember, Unemployment Insurance is on a fact-finding mission.

During the investigation, they may deny you automatically. You could begin receiving unemployment benefits and then the payments stop suddenly. There is no reason to panic. It simply means that Unemployment Insurance is holding the checks until they reach a final determination.

There is one action you must continue to do: Continue to file a claim for Unemployment Insurance every week until they reach a final decision.

If you fail to file your claims, you will lose your right to collect benefits.

A favorable UI decision will mean you can receive all the checks due. Expect to receive a lump sum payment.

If the UI decision is not favorable, you have the option to request a hearing. A hearing is ALWAYS a good idea, according to my Labor Department contact.

An unemployment insurance hearing is similar to a court case with a simple procedure. Often it will be a phone hearing.

You will have the opportunity to describe the events leading up to the separation from the company. Write your timeline down so to communicate it clearly.

Here are other unemployment related posts to help you understand the process better:

If the hearing comes out favorable, you will receive the back funds as long as you did file your claims each week.

Failure to file claims means you will not receive any back checks.

You get one chance to plead your case. The decision of the hearing is final. A final decision means there are no appeals through the Unemployment Insurance process.

An option – you may consider perusing a civil suit. However, it will require consulting a lawyer.

Please note: This information is for accessing unemployment benefits within Rochester, NY – however, your location will have a similar process to follow.