Are you really going to challenge that unemployment claim? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Are you really going to challenge that unemployment claim?

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in Centerpiece,Firing,Human Resources

unemployment benefitsEvery termination brings with it the natural instinct to earn a "win" for the company—to fire without repercussion, bad blood or a rough transition. Part of that may be the desire to oppose unemployment benefits to those fired for good cause. The possibility that a subpar employee will keep getting partially rewarded after being let go can grate on even the most levelheaded HR pro … and may lead to an overly emotional decision in pursuit of keeping the win from turning into a perceived loss.

The situation demands the kind of strategic decision you'll likely be making for the rest of your career. Anniken Davenport, Esq., who represents government units in discrimination and other employment law cases, offers these cautions to keep in mind when you're considering challenging unemployment benefits:

1. Your reasoning for the termination must remain airtight forever. In the worst-case scenario, you offer one set of reasons to the unemployment bureau; then, under threat of a lawsuit, you slightly alter them in self-defense, setting yourself up for legal disaster.

It's more likely, though, that you'll just not realize what a Pandora's box you're opening. For example, if you testify that the firing was due to improper clocking in and clocking out, or abusing sick leave, you'd better feel good that your FLSA or FMLA compliance histories are spotless.  Who knows what a fishing expedition might turn up?

2. You ideally don't want employees talking to attorneys at all. Setting up a challenge to benefits is inevitably a message of criticism, and it can feel to the wounded party like a second termination of sorts. Intensely worried for their financial future, and likely to be angry, they'll want some help in winning what has now become a lasting confrontation. Once they're on the phone with a lawyer, tensions rarely go back to a point of cordiality.

3. Your schedule may get busier in a less-than-pleasant way. Prepare for the need to attend a hearing or two after methodically collecting evidence to explain the company's call to obstruct the unemployment claim. Consider if that's the best use of your time and effort. Also remember that each one of these outings may reinforce an employee's belief that you're taking an overly aggressive stance against their pocketbook.

4. You may appear small-minded and petty. A terminated employee often perceives the company to be a wealthy Goliath intent on building obstacles to keep the little guy struggling. "Why are they doing this to me," he or she often thinks, "when they have so much money? What do they care?" If you appear spiteful, there are more than a few social media outlets just waiting to host festering complaints about your organization.

Facebook will never be as much of a worry, though, as one peeved worker who knows just where to turn to get a lawsuit underway.

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