Unemployment Benefit Attorneys in Madison & Milwaukee

If You Have Been Denied Wisconsin Unemployment Compensation, We May Be Able to Help Reverse the Denial

After losing a job, workers are often in serious need of continued income. Until a new position is secured, Wisconsin Unemployment benefits can provide much needed help. Our attorneys offer representation to workers who have been denied Unemployment benefits and wish to appeal their initial determination, or who have a hearing set because their former employer has requested one. We also offer advice to workers who are navigating the Unemployment benefits system, to ensure that benefits are approved in the first place. 

Applying for Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits

The first stage of the process is the application for benefits, which workers may complete online. This application initiates an investigation by the Unemployment Compensation Office, in which the worker and the employer are interviewed separately by an ‘adjudicator’ for the State, or in some instances simply required to supply information via the Unemployment benefits website. The worker should be honest and forthright at this stage. Under Wisconsin law, the burden is initially on the employer to show the worker is not entitled to benefits. 

A common misconception is that a former employer can ‘deny’ Unemployment benefits. Only the State can deny Unemployment benefits. While an employer may ‘contest’ those benefits – such as by claiming an employee quit for no reason, or was fired for misconduct – the employer does not get to decide who gets benefits and who doesn’t. That is the State’s role. 

In some instances, it may make sense for a worker to contact our attorneys at the initial stage of the process to make sure that the information they provide to the State maximizes their likelihood of receiving Unemployment benefits. 

Qualifying for Unemployment Benefits 

Under Wisconsin law, recently terminated employees are eligible for Unemployment benefits unless (a) they have committed misconduct, (b) they have been fired as a result of ‘substantial fault’, or (c) they have quit their employment without an applicable exception. 

For misconduct, the employer who is contesting Unemployment benefits must show the worker’s conduct amounted to an intentional disregard of the employer’s interests such as willful violations of company policy. 

For ‘substantial fault,’ which was added to the books in 2014, the standard is lower, and requires only that the employer who is contesting Unemployment benefits show that the worker engaged in behavior which violated the employer’s reasonable workplace requirements. 

There are exceptions to the quitting designation, such as when an employee can no longer do a particular job for medical reasons, or has had their shift change and can no longer care for their children. Our attorneys can discuss the full range of exceptions to determine if one may apply in your case.

Our attorneys work tirelessly to prove that our clients are innocent of misconduct and substantial fault, or that if they have quit they have done so in manner that fits one of the exceptions. We make it our mission to ensure that our clients qualify for Unemployment benefits and can get back on their feet as soon as possible. 

Receiving Unemployment Benefits

Workers are normally entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks of Unemployment benefits. Currently, the maximum amount of weekly benefits is $370, and the lowest is $54. For many full-time employees, the difference between receiving Unemployment benefits and not receiving them is nearly $10,000. 

Workers are typically required to conduct job searches while receiving Unemployment benefits. The State operates the Wisconsin Job Center for this purpose. Likewise, workers must be able and available to work. So, if you have become unemployed because you are disabled or on an extended medical leave, you may not qualify for Unemployment benefits. 

Workers receiving severance pay from their former employer should be very careful about simultaneously receiving Unemployment benefits. Our attorneys can talk you through those issues ahead of time, so that you avoid having to pay Unemployment benefits back to the state months or even years after you have received them. 

In some instances, workers who are still employed can file for partial Unemployment benefits if their hours have been reduced from full-time to part-time, and they meet other applicable income requirements. But workers should also be very careful not to conceal their wages or earn full-time income while also receiving Unemployment benefits. Such conduct can even result in criminal charges being brought. Our attorneys can advise you ahead of time, or in real time, to avoid that scenario. 

Appealing a Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits Decision

If the State initially determines the worker is not entitled to benefits, the worker may appeal to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. The burden will then be on the worker to show the judge that they are entitled to benefits. Meanwhile, if the State determines the worker is entitled to benefits, the employer may appeal, resulting in the same type of hearing. 

The deadline to appeal an initial determination is just 14 days, so workers should appeal a negative determination as soon as possible. You do not need an attorney to file an appeal, and you can still contact our attorneys for representation after filing an appeal on your own if the deadline is approaching. 

Workers should also be aware that the State has been aggressive in reopening initial determinations in recent years. Employers are now permitted to submit extra information to the State up to two years after the initial determination, which can result in the State claiming that workers owe back some or all of their Unemployment benefits. In those instances, a worker may again appeal, and once again go to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  

Regardless of which situation a worker finds themselves in, our attorneys are available to discuss your case, provide help, and represent you at a hearing if necessary. 

Recent Developments

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began dramatically altering life in the USA, including Wisconsin, and Unemployment benefits have been no exception. For a period in the summer, Unemployment benefits were expanded by $600 per week via a federal supplement. While that supplement has now expired, we are hopeful that some form of it will return soon, as thousands of workers remain out of a job through no fault of their own. 

Meanwhile, the federal government has also installed the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for individuals who do not otherwise qualify for conventional Unemployment benefits on procedural grounds – for example, independent contractors, employees of certain non-profit employers, people who previously received partial disability benefits while also working part-time, and self-employed individuals. 

There is also Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) for individuals who have exhausted their Unemployment benefits but remain unemployed. This program is set to expire at the end of 2020 but currently provides up to an extra 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to eligible individuals. 

While workers must still be able and available to work, the State has temporarily suspended the work search requirement as well. 

Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented volume of Unemployment benefits claims resulting from COVID-19 and related business closures, layoffs, and furloughs, Wisconsin’s Unemployment benefits system has been overwhelmed, with claims that normally take a few weeks to process taking months instead. Workers who find themselves waiting on the Unemployment benefits process, either for an initial determination or for an appeal date, must be patient in these very trying circumstances. But when the time is right, our attorneys are prepared to assist and advise workers with COVID-specific Unemployment benefits questions. 

Please call a Madison unemployment attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee unemployment contract attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

 

After losing a job, workers are often in serious need of continued income. Until a new position is secured, Wisconsin Unemployment benefits can provide much needed help. Our attorneys offer representation to workers who have been denied Unemployment benefits and wish to appeal their initial determination, or who have a hearing set because their former employer has requested one. We also offer advice to workers who are navigating the Unemployment benefits system, to ensure that benefits are approved in the first place. 

Applying for Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits

The first stage of the process is the application for benefits, which workers may complete online. This application initiates an investigation by the Unemployment Compensation Office, in which the worker and the employer are interviewed separately by an ‘adjudicator’ for the State, or in some instances simply required to supply information via the Unemployment benefits website. The worker should be honest and forthright at this stage. Under Wisconsin law, the burden is initially on the employer to show the worker is not entitled to benefits. 

A common misconception is that a former employer can ‘deny’ Unemployment benefits. Only the State can deny Unemployment benefits. While an employer may ‘contest’ those benefits – such as by claiming an employee quit for no reason, or was fired for misconduct – the employer does not get to decide who gets benefits and who doesn’t. That is the State’s role. 

In some instances, it may make sense for a worker to contact our attorneys at the initial stage of the process to make sure that the information they provide to the State maximizes their likelihood of receiving Unemployment benefits. 

Qualifying for Unemployment Benefits 

Under Wisconsin law, recently terminated employees are eligible for Unemployment benefits unless (a) they have committed misconduct, (b) they have been fired as a result of ‘substantial fault’, or (c) they have quit their employment without an applicable exception. 

For misconduct, the employer who is contesting Unemployment benefits must show the worker’s conduct amounted to an intentional disregard of the employer’s interests such as willful violations of company policy. 

For ‘substantial fault,’ which was added to the books in 2014, the standard is lower, and requires only that the employer who is contesting Unemployment benefits show that the worker engaged in behavior which violated the employer’s reasonable workplace requirements. 

There are exceptions to the quitting designation, such as when an employee can no longer do a particular job for medical reasons, or has had their shift change and can no longer care for their children. Our attorneys can discuss the full range of exceptions to determine if one may apply in your case.

Our attorneys work tirelessly to prove that our clients are innocent of misconduct and substantial fault, or that if they have quit they have done so in manner that fits one of the exceptions. We make it our mission to ensure that our clients qualify for Unemployment benefits and can get back on their feet as soon as possible. 

Receiving Unemployment Benefits

Workers are normally entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks of Unemployment benefits. Currently, the maximum amount of weekly benefits is $370, and the lowest is $54. For many full-time employees, the difference between receiving Unemployment benefits and not receiving them is nearly $10,000. 

Workers are typically required to conduct job searches while receiving Unemployment benefits. The State operates the Wisconsin Job Center for this purpose. Likewise, workers must be able and available to work. So, if you have become unemployed because you are disabled or on an extended medical leave, you may not qualify for Unemployment benefits. 

Workers receiving severance pay from their former employer should be very careful about simultaneously receiving Unemployment benefits. Our attorneys can talk you through those issues ahead of time, so that you avoid having to pay Unemployment benefits back to the state months or even years after you have received them. 

In some instances, workers who are still employed can file for partial Unemployment benefits if their hours have been reduced from full-time to part-time, and they meet other applicable income requirements. But workers should also be very careful not to conceal their wages or earn full-time income while also receiving Unemployment benefits. Such conduct can even result in criminal charges being brought. Our attorneys can advise you ahead of time, or in real time, to avoid that scenario. 

Appealing a Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits Decision

If the State initially determines the worker is not entitled to benefits, the worker may appeal to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. The burden will then be on the worker to show the judge that they are entitled to benefits. Meanwhile, if the State determines the worker is entitled to benefits, the employer may appeal, resulting in the same type of hearing. 

The deadline to appeal an initial determination is just 14 days, so workers should appeal a negative determination as soon as possible. You do not need an attorney to file an appeal, and you can still contact our attorneys for representation after filing an appeal on your own if the deadline is approaching. 

Workers should also be aware that the State has been aggressive in reopening initial determinations in recent years. Employers are now permitted to submit extra information to the State up to two years after the initial determination, which can result in the State claiming that workers owe back some or all of their Unemployment benefits. In those instances, a worker may again appeal, and once again go to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  

Regardless of which situation a worker finds themselves in, our attorneys are available to discuss your case, provide help, and represent you at a hearing if necessary. 

Recent Developments

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began dramatically altering life in the USA, including Wisconsin, and Unemployment benefits have been no exception. For a period in the summer, Unemployment benefits were expanded by $600 per week via a federal supplement. While that supplement has now expired, we are hopeful that some form of it will return soon, as thousands of workers remain out of a job through no fault of their own. 

Meanwhile, the federal government has also installed the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for individuals who do not otherwise qualify for conventional Unemployment benefits on procedural grounds – for example, independent contractors, employees of certain non-profit employers, people who previously received partial disability benefits while also working part-time, and self-employed individuals. 

There is also Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) for individuals who have exhausted their Unemployment benefits but remain unemployed. This program is set to expire at the end of 2020 but currently provides up to an extra 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to eligible individuals. 

While workers must still be able and available to work, the State has temporarily suspended the work search requirement as well. 

Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented volume of Unemployment benefits claims resulting from COVID-19 and related business closures, layoffs, and furloughs, Wisconsin’s Unemployment benefits system has been overwhelmed, with claims that normally take a few weeks to process taking months instead. Workers who find themselves waiting on the Unemployment benefits process, either for an initial determination or for an appeal date, must be patient in these very trying circumstances. But when the time is right, our attorneys are prepared to assist and advise workers with COVID-specific Unemployment benefits questions. 

Please call a Madison unemployment attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee unemployment contract attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

 

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