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Weather can excuse late filing for unemployment benefits

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

As every Florida resident knows, hurricanes can wreak havoc. But until now, ex-employees had to file unemployment compensation appeals by the statutory deadline—hurricane or no hurricane.

While almost every other court in Florida extended deadlines after Hurricane Wilma rolled ashore in 2005, the Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission (UAC) didn’t budge. But, as a recent case clarifies, due process trumps agency deadlines.

Recent case: Gerard Dumorange filed for unemployment, but an appeals referee decided he was guilty of misconduct and denied his request. It gave him until Nov. 8, 2005, to file an appeal.

Then Hurricane Wilma hit. Dumorange didn’t mail his appeal until Nov. 14, blaming his delay on the weather emergency. The UAC tossed out his appeal, saying Wilma didn’t impact South Florida beyond Oct. 24.

The Court of Appeals of Florida disagreed. Noting that every other court in the affected area extended appeal deadlines, it declared that due process supercedes agency rules, and allowed him to file the appeal. (Dumorange v. Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission, No. 3D05-2946, Court of Appeals of Florida, 3rd District, 2006)  

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