News & Press

Home Health Care Workers and Unemployment

Minnesota – In a recent case a claimant who had been caring for a family member through a home health care staffing agency alleged that she had been discharged from her assignment when her client moved out of the country and as a result she was no longer able to work for him. On the other hand, the employer maintained that ongoing work was available and when offered to the claimant, it was refused.

Under Minnesota’s unemployment compensation laws, when service for a particular patient ends, attendants are only eligible for unemployment compensation benefits if they tell the staffing service they are willing and able to work with another patient. Otherwise, the end of the original assignment doesn’t count as a discharge.

While an Unemployment Law Judge (ULJ) ruled in favor of the claimant, the state Court of Appeals overturned that ruling stating that “In this case, respondent elected to serve one client, her uncle.  She knew, from the beginning of the employment, that there was an option available to be assigned more clients…Further, when respondent communicated that her uncle had left the country, relator offered her the chance to work for a new client; respondent chose not to work.  The end of the employment relationship was not the effect of a policy change or a decision that relator did not want to employ respondent.  Relator gave respondent a chance to stay, and she declined…In view of the entire record as submitted, the ULJ’s decision finding that respondent was discharged and did not quit is unsupported by substantial evidence in the record. Based on these conclusions, we reverse the decision”.

Read the Full Case Details Here: http://law.justia.com/cases/minnesota/court-of-appeals/2017/a16-1316.html

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Employer Supplemental Unemployment Compensation Plan Prevents “Double-Dipping”

This recent case should be of great interest to any employers who offer a supplemental unemployment compensation plan to their employees. According to a recent ruling, if that plan pays the equivalent of regular weekly wages, then the employee can’t collect additional unemployment compensation payments from the state system.

Read the Full Case Details Here: https://casetext.com/case/leisey-v-express-scripts-servs-co 

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Honest Mistake Creates Unemployment Risk

Pennsylvania – In a recent case a worker whose employer falsely promised her health insurance benefits has won her case for unemployment benefits in the District Court.

At the time of hire, the claimant was told that she would receive fully paid health insurance coverage for herself and her spouse. A few months later management discovered that her position was not eligible for spousal coverage and that she would have to pay $950 per month for such coverage. The claimant testified that she left a job that paid more money to take the job with this employer because of the full benefits provided, and the security it provided to her family and that she was more than willing to continue her employment provided that the employer could continue to provide paid spousal insurance. As this was not an option, the claimant quit and despite the employer’s claim that they should not be penalized because they provided the benefits in error, the Court agreed with the claimant stating that she “met her burden of showing necessitous and compelling circumstances for voluntarily quitting her employment.”

This case is an important reminder for employers that even honest mistakes can create unemployment risk. Thoroughly confirming all the details in offers of employment and benefits, prior to hire, is a vital standard for all employers to uphold.

Read the Full Case Details Here: https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4383686/forbes-road-sd-v-ucbr/

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Disciplinary Discharge of Employees on Workers’ Compensation

It is a common practice for employers to avoid discharging employees who violate policy if they are receiving workers compensation benefits and thereby working a modified duty assignment, but it is very important that these employees are held to the same standards as their workmates, including compliance with applicable policies and procedures.

In a recent case, a nursing assistant who had been injured at work and was therefore restricted to working in a modified duty capacity was discharged for working beyond the limitations of her employment. After receiving a prior warning, she continued to perform tasks that were not part of her job description and which required additional qualification. As a result, she was also denied her request to reinstate her workers’ compensation benefits.  This case supports the unemployment practice of treating all employees fairly and equally in accord with their company policies and provides additional support for employers who are unsure of their obligations in cases involving employees receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Read the Full Case Details Here: https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4382769/i-waugh-v-wcab-st-mary-medical-center/

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Unemployment Rates Drop While New Challenges Come Up

Massachusetts – The Bay State’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the past eight years, from 8.2% in August 2009 to under 4% in 2017. Some of the highest rates in August 2009 belonging to the towns of Lawrence, Springfield and Worcester all reported dramatic decreases in 2017 by almost half of their 2009 rates. Lawrence is now under 8%, Worcester is at 4.5% and Springfield is at 6.8 %. Although this is great news for the Massachusetts economy, there is one contributing factor that should not be ignored. The rate of individuals who are “underemployed” (U6 rate) in the state of Massachusetts remains high. In fact this rate has now surpassed the levels prior to the recession. Individuals who fall into this U6 category may not possess the skills necessary to find full time work and are therefore only employed part time or have stopped searching for employment all together. This is a very important factor that will remain in focus as the Unemployment rates continue to be monitored.

For More Information on this Discussion: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/05/24/jobless-rates-drop-in-bay-states-smaller-cities.html?ana=e_me_set1&s=newsletter&ed=2017-05-24&u=%2FmVb%2BsU0iPFgDh%2Bpw2oEjQ00aa1b50&t=1495633627&j=78243601

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UTCA Introduces New Client Referral Program

Over the years, UTCA has grown through the enthusiastic endorsement of our services from word of mouth referrals. UTCA clients are outspoken and passionate about our program and for that we are humbled and grateful. In return, we have now developed a “Client Referral” program to reward clients who vocalize their opinions through a referral, where new business is secured.

Effective immediately, UTCA is offering a generous annual fee credit for any new client referral resulting in a signed contract and initial payment. Our clients have long been a consistent and enthusiastic source of referrals, thus we will now incentivize their endorsements by rolling out this Rewards Program!

Clients with questions on the program or who would like to make a referral are encouraged to reach out to Business Development Coordinator Michael Williams, at mwilliams@utcainc.com or Director of Operations Meghan Avery at mavery@utcainc.com for more information.

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Unemployment Benefits Fraudulently Obtained Determined Non-Dischargeable in Bankruptcy Case

Connecticut – According to the Law, Bankruptcy allows “honest but unfortunate debtors” an opportunity to reset their financial affairs and get a fresh start, but some pre-existing debts that were not obtained honestly, such as debts obtained by false pretenses or by false representation, are not eligible for discharge. This was the case in a recent bankruptcy proceeding where the court determined that an overpayment of unemployment benefits, plus interest, was nondischargeable because the claimant had fraudulently represented her employment status and, as a result, received unemployment benefits she otherwise would not have been entitled to receive.

View the case here: http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20BCO%2020170406700/IN%20RE%20KING

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Woman Who Quit After Raise Request Was Denied is Also Denied Unemployment Benefits

Pennsylvania – In a recent ruling, the Commonwealth Court denied unemployment benefits to a woman who quit her job when she didn’t receive a raise after her job title was changed. The claimant stated that she was hired as a customer service rep in September 2015, but that her job title changed to a data analyst just two days later. The claimant felt that this entitled her to a raise while the employer disputed this claiming that there was no significant change in her job duties that would warrant a raise. The Judge overseeing the case agreed with the employer and ruled in their favor citing that there wasn’t a compelling enough reason for the claimant to have quit her job.

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Unemployment Eligibility for Contingent Employees is Updated

At the close of 2016, the U.S Department of Labor issued new guidance that updated a nearly 30 year old protocol for establishing unemployment eligibility for “contingent” and “adjunct” employees. Many organizations, such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), pushed for this updated guidance as the old standards from 1986 mainly addressed primary and secondary education and not higher education. This new guidance issued in Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 05-17 highlighted various circumstances of university faculty who are considered to be “contingent” or “adjunct” employees. It explains that, in order to deny unemployment to contingent faculty based on a claim of employment in the following semester, the state unemployment compensation office must first determine that three prerequisites are all met: the offer of employment must be genuine and made by an individual with authority to offer employment; the employment offered must be in the same capacity; and the earnings in the following year or term may not be significantly less (generally at least 90%) than the preceding one.

Read more about this new guidance here: https://www.aaup.org/unemployment-compensation-contingent-faculty

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Wisconsin Woman Receives Unemployment After Discharge for Transaction Errors

In a unanimous decision reached last Thursday, the State Supreme Court has ruled that a terminated employee of a Wisconsin Walgreens store is eligible to receive unemployment benefits in spite of evidence of major transaction errors. Although there were eight errors having to do with undercharging and accepting unapproved forms of payment, there was no proof that her errors were intentional and thereby could not be qualified as “substantial fault”, a concept that became a part of the state’s unemployment law in 2014.

Read more about this ruling here: http://www.wpr.org/state-supreme-court-sides-worker-unemployment-case

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