The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) handles claims for unemployment benefits. If you are denied benefits, or if your former employer appeals a decision to grant you benefits, hiring an employment lawyer may help you preserve or obtain unemployment benefits as the Texas Workforce Commission Unemployment Benefits process is fraught with pitfalls and technicalities that can harm employees.
How does the process work?
Initially, an employee makes a claim for unemployment benefits through the Texas Workforce Comission. The comission will do a minor investigation into the claims and make an initial decision on whether the employee is eligible for unemployment benefits. If the TWC determines the employee is eligible for benefits, the employer may apeal the decision. If the TWC determines the employee not is eligible for benefits, the employee may apeal the decision. The time to request an appeal is extremely short. The appeal takes place over the telephone, and a TWC hearing officer will make a determination on the employee's eligibiltiy to receive unemployment benefits. Whichever party loses this appeal is entitled to submit a written appeal to the appeals tribunal. The appeals tribunal will either overturn or uphold the decision of the hearing officer; sometimes the tribunal may send the issue back to be re-heard. The party who loses this appeal may appeal the decision to district court to be heard before a state judge.
Will I get unemployment benefits?
The two biggest reasons for getting denied unemployment beneifts are:
- Resigning from the position; and
- Termination for misconduct related to the work
These two reasons may seem straight forward; however, they are not. Resigning from a position is not always a bar to unemployment benefits. If the employee can make a case that the resignation was involuntary, or in other words, that it was
a constructive termination, the employee may still be able to receive unemployment benefits.
"Misconduct related to the work" has a much more exspansive definition than one might think. The TWC has many documented decisions regarding what constitutes "misconduct related to the work." Having an employment attorney who has handled TWC appeals and understands TWC case law, like myself, can help make a stronger case for the employee to receive unemployment benefits.
What other considerations are there?
The TWC strictly enforces its deadlines and requirements to submit your job search log. Failure to do any of these things can, and often will, ensure that you do not receive unemployment benefits even if you otherwise would have qualified or won your appeal. Consulting with an employment law attorney about these deadlines and responsibilities can help you maintain your benefits.
Can an independent contractor get unemployment benefits?
Just because an employer has an employee classsified as an independent contractor does not make it so. Whether someone is a true indpendent contractor versus an employee is a fact-intensive analysis, and talking to an employment lawyer can help you understand whether your employer misclassified you. It is not uncommon for employers to misclassify workers as indpendent contractors for multiple reasons, including avoiding unemployment benefit claims. Employers who consistently wrongfully classify employees may even be audited by the TWC. If you believe you have been wrongly classified as an independent contractor, contact me.
Contact me for your unemployment benefits appeal
If you have been denied unemployment benefits or if your employer has appealed your unemployment benefits claims, contact me your Houston employment lawyer. I regularly represent clients in unemployment matters and have represented clients all the way through the process from the initial telephone hearing, to written appeals, and all the way to District Court.