Massachusetts DUA: Unemployment Insurance Hearings

Today I experienced my very first unemployment insurance hearing. I was representing my company against a claim made by one of my former consultants. The following document is a must read for anyone looking to file for unemployment. It is essential that both employers and employees understand just how vague the law delineates why someone may or may not file for unemployment.

Essentially, if you quit, get fired, or refuse a job you cannot file a claim. However, termination is a thorny issue and even quitting can be viewed from various angles differently.

If your claim is challenged by your former employer you will have an opportunity to present your case at a hearing. The reason the employer is interested in having those benefits denied to you is that their unemployment contribution to the Massachusetts unemployment fund is directly related to how many employees file for unemployment and how much they collect.

For this reason, your former employer may send a representative to present their side of the story. The hearing takes about an hour depending on the circumstances as a Massachusetts Division of Unemployment agent gathers your testimony under oath. I suggest not lying under oath whether you are the employer or the claimant.

If the employer succeeds in challenging your claim, you will be liable for all the money the State of Massachusetts paid you over those months. You may also be persecuted for fraud, although I suspect this rarely happens since employment law is designed to protect the claimant rather than cause additional pain.

On the other hand, if the employer does not show up within 10 minutes of the hearings official start, the case is decided in your favor by default. I saw a very happy claimant when he was informed that the employer had not shown up. Whether his claim was legitimate or not become irrelevant in the eyes of the Massachusetts once the employer defaulted on the hearing.

Whether you file or not is completely up to you. Know your rights, but also beware of the employer challenge and Massachusetts State Law about fraud. After the hearing, I have no idea which way the agent will decide.

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Comment by Herbert Novogroski on March 4, 2010 at 12:27pm
I can tell you that if the claimant showed will lose! In Massachusetts it is almost impossible for an employer to win a contested unemployment case! Good Luck!!!
Comment by Gene Leshinsky on August 19, 2011 at 5:04pm
Yeah, I showed up representing the employer and won with the claimant sitting right there. My current client consistently challenges unemployment claims and wins.


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