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Someone filed an unemployment suit against me. Please help

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  • Someone filed an unemployment suit against me. Please help

    Hi there, this is long but here we go anyway.
    I work with a small family restaurant which opened up earlier in the year, and had hired several part time servers.
    There was one particular server who was an average worker, but as the months went by his work performance started to depreciate, and his lack of respect for the owners was very open as well as uncomfortable for the owners.
    He would come into work late sporadically, and my head server would tell me that he would seem inebriated/intoxicated with some sort of substance.
    Now as I mention again, we aren't some chain restaurant with some corporate HQ, we are a family run business and was aware that this was a delicate situation but not sure what to do about it.

    Our baseline agreement when we hired our servers was that the amount of hours (shifts) received per week would be based on performance. I gave him less shifts to work as he still did not understand the menu completely (even after 2-3 months? please...) I know he is fully capable of understanding the material.

    Anyways towards the end of his.. employment, he said that he would like more hours and I told him that if his performance, and attendance at work would improve it would definitely help, but I wasn't sure how much because he purposefully said very crude things about the owners in front of them in English because they can not speak English as fluently.
    Needless to say, out of respect for him and not wanting him to be unemployed in Michigan (I'm a student too I know how it is) I told him I would give him a month of good hours if he could please find another Job out of respect for us (Note: We did not FIRE him) because it was very uncomfortable for him to be staying with us after the things that were said/actions that have been done. Like I said, we are not a big restaurant, a small family one.
    He agreed, and we gave him plenty of good shifts, and he wrote a 2 weeks notice and quit/resigned.

    Now about 6 months later I received a letter from the unemployment insurance agency of him trying to eligible for qualification of unemployment. It is a Fact Finding letter that is asking 6 different questions about the ex-employee.

    I am quite appalled because I have been okay acquaintances with him, have even visited his home because our mutual friend and him had been roommates. And I know for a fact that he has not even been actively looking for a job, just lounging around at home all day with his pseudo-girlfriend.

    I was going to call the UIA but they are closed at this time, but this matter is still kind of unsettling.
    Is there a good chance he will be qualified for unemployment from this restaurant?
    I feel that at the other end of the spectrum we are really being taken advantage of.
    Last edited by kam010; 04-05-2011, 02:12 PM.

  • #2
    OK. Several unrelated things.
    - If you have a bad employee, document their "badness" and terminate them. You choose to delay your handling here and apparently the employee quit. That problem resolved.
    - Unrelated to the first issue you have a pending UI claim. You do not get to approve/deny the claim. That is entirely the state's decisions. The state is very clear that it is THEIR decision. You can (and should) tell your side of the story, but the other side gets to tell their side of the story. Likely the two stories will not agree with each other. From the state's standpoint these are "stories". Maybe correct, maybe completely made up, but point of fact, employees and employers lie (a lot) to state UI people. Unless you draw someone on their first day on the job, they are going to be very skeptical about everything both parties say. Just tell the truth. Keep it short. Keep it on point. If you have on point paperwork that supports your position submit it. But do not assume that the hearing officer is an idiot. Do not assume that the HO wants to play family feud between the parties. The HO wants people to briefly tell their story, answer any questions the HO has, but otherwise let the HO run their hearing. People who brass of the HO lose. Wasting the HO's time brasses them off.

    Now I said "hearing". Maybe you just send paper. Maybe you have a phone hearing. Maybe you have an in person hearing. It is entirely the state's decision what process they want to use. It you lose, it is not the end of the world. Maybe appeal if possible, but the important thing is that you no longer have a bad employee working for you. Thre is no magic button you can push or magic phrase you can use that will give you a certain win.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      Thank you DAW! Yes I'm quite aware that the state decides if this person is eligible for the unemployment benefits, and not the company itself. The UIA has sent me a questionnaire asking about the circumstance of the employees "Voluntary Resignation" .

      I've kept records of the ex-employees sporadic attendance by his time cards so I guess it's in ink his poor work performance.

      One more thing, While I was looking up on the unemployment laws in Michigan I came across this.

      There are two ways in which your wages may qualify you for unemployment benefits:
       “Regular” qualifying method: (a) For benefit years beginning January 4, 2009, and after, you
      must have wages in at least two quarters in your base period. In one quarter, your wages must be
      at least $2,871; and (b) total wages for all four quarters must equal at least one and a half times
      the highest amount of wages paid in any quarter of the base period. ($2,871 x 1.5 = $4,306.50)
       Alternate Earnings Qualifier (AEQ): (a) You must have wages in at least two quarters; and
      (b) total wages for all four quarters must equal at least 20 times the state average weekly wage
      (SAWW). For 2011, the AEQ amount is $16,467.00 [20 x $823.35 (SAWW) = $16,467.00]

      Does this have to do with Part-Time workers as well?
      Because by this standard he did not make enough to even qualify for unemployment..


      • #4
        Yes, it applies to all claimants. So, even if the reason for termination allowed him to receive benefits, if he doesn't have the requisite wages, it's irrelevant. In fact, it may not even get to the hearing stage.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5
          If your defense is that he resigned, keep it short and simple. Fax a copy of his resignation to unemployment.

          If your defense is he was a poor employee then you need to bring in the details about attendance and work.

          Don't mix the two defenses, it is an either/or situation. However reading through it sounds like he resigned in lieu of termination which the state will view as termination. If that happens you will need to justify why you let a bad employee stay on for a month and give him more shifts. I have been through many unemployment hearings (including in MI) and think by allowing him to stay you have damaged your case. The state may think if you allowed him to stay and gave him more shifts that he could not have been too bad.

          After 6 months I am wondering if you are his last employer. If not, even if you lose unemployment you may not be charged for his entire unemployment but a portion of it.


          • #6
            If he submitted a resignation, then the the rest is largely irrelevant. I have no idea why you would increase his hours and give him the good shifts as a reward for insulting the owners and showing up late. It sounds like this place suffers from a lack of experienced management. Especially since this is a small business without a corporate office to help, you all really need to be on your game. I'm not trying to be mean but you and whomever else are in charge would benefit from training or courses in HR and management.

            Next time you have performance/attendance issues, document them, speak to the employee and put it in writing. If someone shows up acting inebriated, send them home! Refusing to increase his hours until he turned things around would have been a much better way to go. Or, after enough was enough, sit him down and put in writing that the next instance of attendance or inappropriate behavior, he was terminated. Then stick to it. If you can show that the employee knew their job was in jeopardy and still purposely violated the rules, unemployment has a better chance of going in your favor.

            What would have happened had he not quit? Would the increased hours continued? Would you have eventually fired him? It seems illogical to offer more hours to someone you want to go away. Not to mention if they do get unemployment, you just effectively increased the amount they are eligible for by increasing their wages.
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