I filed for UC benefits with the state of PA in early November. I am now on my fourth bi-weekly filing period and still have not seen any benefits deposited to my account. The state is claiming that I may be ineligible because I am self-employed, although I am not. They also claim that they cannot make a determination because the employer in question refuses to answer their correspondence.
I work primarily in Philadelphia. Mostly its one week on and one week off. And when I am off I go down to Washington DC and do the exact same job that I do in Philadelphia. Obviously I do this because my primary job is intermittent, but the two jobs are exactly the same, just in different venues.
The only differences in the two places of employment are this: In Philadelphia I am paid via a standard w-2 with taxes and such taken out of my check. In DC, it it a different company and they pay me via 1099.
There are two different things going on here:
1. Because of this 1099, the state is saying that I may be self-employed and thus ineligible for benefits. I find it odd that they say this, since last year when I was laid off at the same time (I get laid off from both jobs in the winter, and I am recalled in the spring) PA UC was more than happy to process my claim. As a matter of fact, the year previous I had claimed UC in Texas and PA insisted I file with them instead. I am not self-employed. The conditions of my employment are virtually identical in both locations, the only difference being the method of payroll used. And even if I was, it's a moot point, since there is a section in the PA Unemployment law covering self-employed individuals that clearly indicates that they are eligible.
2. PA UC has tried to contact the employer in DC because of my benefits claim. the company has not responded. At the same time, PA UC has asked me to provide wage data concerning my claim (1099, direct deposits to my checking) which I have provided them with, not once, but twice now. According to PA UC law, the employer has 15 days to respond to a claim from the state and if they don't, then the examiner can use the available data to make a decision. The examiner refuses to do this, even though the time since my initial claim has been approx. 48 days. I find it hard to believe that the 15-day time limit has not elapsed during that 48-day period, since common sense tells me that the correspondence would have been sent to the DC employer right after I made my initial claim.
I have gone around and around on this for almost 8 weeks now with PA UC. In almost a dozen phone contacts I have been able to get past the customer service representative exactly twice to speak to a supervisor, and that was in the early stages of the claim. Lately they have just flat refused to let me speak with anyone in a supervisory position. There are a lot of other things going on, like not returning calls, not acknowledging correspondence after agreeing to do so, misinformation by customer service reps, etc. Just today, they told me that the examiner was looking at my file and would contact me as soon as he was done with it. I asked to speak with him and was told he was too busy to talk to me. Not surprisingly, I am still waiting for that return call.
The bottom line on all of this is that they are looking for ways to prove that I am self-employed, so they can deny benefits. So, four things are happening here:
1) they are working against me instead of as an advocate, which is what I thought UC was all about.
2) they are trying to claim that I am self-employed, which I am not, and anyway the point is moot because there is an existing clause in the law that says I would be eligible anyway.
3) the claims examiner that is "judging" my claim has tried to correspond with the company in question and got no response. Instead of following the law and using the available data, he has decided to sit on the file until either the employer responds, or I give up and stop making claims. I don't know about the first, but I can **** sure tell you that the second is not going to happen.
4) in the 10-12 phone conversations I have had with various CSRs at PA UC, I have by and large asked them the same questions over and over again and either gotten differing answers or no answers at all. This also was the case with the supervisors I spoke with. Apparently no one at this regional office knows anything about their job. One person could not even tell me what time the office opened in the morning. Well, actually he did. And he was only off by one hour.
There is one other thing and I think it may be driving all this somehow. I work in Philly and DC but I live in Texas. Right now I am about 2000 miles from this UC regional office trying to do battle with them over the phone and fax. I think they figure that at some point I will just give up. I also think that they figure they have the legal high ground, since it's not likely I will go to Philly to initiate legal action, and it's highly unlikely that a labor lawyer in PA will take this case over the phone.
So, does anyone have any idea why this might be happening? I am at my wits end here and I cannot seem to get this issue escalated past the lowest levels. The PA UC website offers no information for any kind of service complaints or any kind of ombudsman to intervene in an issue like this. I have no idea where to look now to get this resolved. If there are any PA lawyers on here that know about this stuff I would certainly appreciate their input.
Thanks and Happy New Year to all.