What is the Process of Appealing a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Missouri?

When Missouri workers lose their jobs through no fault of their own, they often are eligible to receive unemployment benefits through the Department of Labor’s Division of Employment Security. While the phrase “no fault of their own,” may seem clear on its face, appeal determining fault can often be a difficult legal issue. Often, employers and former employees disagree about the basic facts that lead to a person’s quitting or termination, facts which are relevant to determining whether a worker is eligible for unemployment benefits. In cases where unemployment benefit eligibility is disputed, the representation of an experienced unemployment lawyer can often significantly affect the outcome of a case.

If you have already applied for unemployment benefits and been denied, all is not lost. Missouri law allows people who have been denied to appeal the deputy’s initial determination to the Division of Employment Security’s Appeals Tribunal. Both parties to the matter have the right to appeal the deputy determination within 30 days. An appeal involves either an in-person or telephone hearing which allows the parties to present evidence that the deputy made an incorrect determination regarding the denial or approval of benefits. These hearings are extremely important, as they are the only opportunity that the parties have to present evidence on their behalf.

While the rules of evidence do not strictly apply in an unemployment appeal hearing, there must still be sufficient evidence on the record to support the tribunal’s ultimate determination. The tribunal is allowed to help the parties present their cases, and has the right to question all witnesses. Because these are legal proceedings, the assistance of an attorney can be extremely helpful. Some of the ways an attorney can help include:

  • Collecting and presenting evidence on your behalf
  • Questioning witnesses
  • Ensuring that your appeal is correctly filed
  • Making sure that you legal rights are protected during the hearing

Contact a St. Louis unemployment lawyer today to schedule a free consultation

Whether you are a former employee seeking benefits or en employer protesting benefits, you should retain a St. Louis unemployment attorney immediately. To schedule a free consultation with Missouri unemployment lawyer Kenneth P. Carp, call our office today at (314) 942-3005.


Avoiding Unemployment Fraud

Missouri law entitles many workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own to unemployment benefits. In order to obtain unemployment benefits, workers need to file a claim with the Missouri Department of Labor’s Division of Employment Security (DES). unemployment fraudWhile many claims are clearly valid and accepted without issue, the DES processes all claims individually and on the lookout for employees who attempt to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits.  According to the agency’s website, it actively engages and prosecutes unemployment insurance fraud, and potential penalties include the cancellation of benefits, fines, and even incarceration.

Fortunately, an attorney can help ensure that your application for employment benefits is accurate and that you are complying with all applicable laws. In addition, hiring an attorney early in the process can help avoid any problems that have the potential to arise and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Some common examples of unemployment insurance fraud include the following:

  • Under-reporting of Earnings – The law requires that individuals receiving unemployment benefits report all earnings each week, including wages, tips, commissions, and bonuses.
  • Inaccurate Work Search History – People who are receiving unemployment benefits should list only employers that they have actually contacted. DES randomly audits unemployment claimants each week and contacts employers to ensure that the claimant actually applied with them.
  • Making False or Misleading Statements to Obtain Benefits – Providing the DES with false information in order to get unemployment benefits is fraud.

Because of the potentially serious consequences, it is extremely important that people making unemployment benefit claims provide accurate information regarding their situation. If you are concerned that you be ineligible, you should discuss your situation with an attorney.

Contact a St. Louis unemployment lawyer today to schedule a free consultation

People who are seeking unemployment benefits have the right to legal representation as well as the right to appeal adverse determinations.  Attorney Kenneth P. Carp is dedicated to advocating for the rights of unemployed workers, and has extensive experience in the field of unemployment law. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Carp, call our office today at (314) 942-3005. If you would prefer to send us an email, please submit our online contact form available here.

What is Considered “Suitable Work” in Missouri?

When Missouri workers lose their jobs through no fault of their own, they may be entitled to unemployment benefits. Generally speaking, employees who quit their jobs are not eligible for these benefits, except in limited circumstances.  Among these circumstances are situations where a worker tries out a job and it is determined that the work is unsuitable for scales of justiceone reason or another and a worker quits within 28 days because of the unsuitability. Importantly, it is not enough to simply report that the work is unsuitable to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Rather, the Missouri Department of Labor’s Division of Employment Security (DES) must make that determination, and the criteria used by the agency in making a suitability determination is set out by state law.

An adverse determination by the DES could result in the denial of unemployment benefits, so it is extremely important for people claiming that a job offer or a position is unsuitable make the best legal case they can. Usually, this involves the assistance of an experienced attorney. The factors that DES takes into account when determining the suitability of a position for a particular individual include:

  • The degree of risk posed to the individual’s health, safety, and morals
  • The individual’s job prospects in their customary occupation
  • The individual’s physical fitness
  • The individual’s prior earnings
  • The individual’s experience

There are certain circumstances that preclude the DES from determining that work is suitable, including a position being open due to a strike or a lockout, comparatively poor working conditions, or a position requiring that the individual join or not join a labor organization.

Contact a St. Louis unemployment attorney today to schedule a free consultation

Individuals seeking Missouri unemployment benefits have the right to be represented by an attorney. Even if you have already been denied benefits by DES, you may be able to appeal the decision. The assistance of an experienced St. Louis unemployment lawyer can significantly impact the outcome of your case. To schedule a free consultation with Missouri attorney Kenneth P. Carp, call our office today at (314) 942-3005. If you would prefer to send us an email, please fill out and submit our online contact form available here.


What is an Employer’s “Experience Rate?”

Missouri’s unemployment insurance program system provides benefits to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own.  The program is funded through taxes paid by employers, whose level of contribution is based on a variety of factors.  Unemployment insurance taxes can quickly add up, potentially costing your business a taxessignificant amount of money. The assistance of Kenneth P. Carp an experienced St. Louis unemployment lawyer can help ensure that you minimize your unemployment taxes while still being in compliance with the applicable state and federal law.  Any employer dealing with issues related to unemployment benefits should contact St. Louis attorney Kenneth P. Carp as soon as possible.

How is an Employer’s Unemployment Tax Liability Calculated

When an employer first incurs unemployment tax liability, it is required to make payments at the “new employer” rate for a 2 or 3 year period. These rates are based on an employer’s industrial classification, and will be the following for 2015:

  • Mining: 3.51%
  • Construction:  4.622%
  • Nonprofit:  1.30%
  • All others: 3.51

In order to incentivize employers to maintain a stable work environment and reduce unemployment claims, employers are assigned an “experience rate.”  The Division of Employment Security (DES) maintains an account for each employer against which unemployment claims made by current or former employees. An employer’s experience rate is determined by dividing its account balance by its average annual payroll. Additionally, benefit charges occur when a current or former employee becomes unemployed or underemployed, and can adversely affect an employer’s experience rate. DES keeps track of each employer’s account and determines its unemployment tax liability on an annual basis.

In addition to state unemployment tax, employers are also subject to Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), which is fixed at 6%. However, when an employer pays its state unemployment tax on time, they receive a 5.4% credit against its FUTA tax liability, making the effective federal tax rate .6%.

Contact a St. Louis unemployment attorney today to schedule a free consultation

Employers who are facing unemployment tax liability should be sure to discuss their situation with an experienced St. Louis unemployment law attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with attorney Kenneth P. Carp, call our office today at (314) 942-3005.

What Happens if my Employer Claims I am an Independent Contractor?

an independent contractor agreementThere are two main classifications for workers under United States employment laws—“employee” and “independent contractor.” These two classifications can mean marked differences in protections of law, liability, and benefits for workers. One example is that employees may qualify for unemployment benefits following a dismissal, while independent contractors may never qualify for such benefits.

Many times, an employer may claim that workers are independent contractors when they are actually employees as defined by federal and state labor laws. Sometimes, an employer makes an honest mistake in misclassification and, at other times, employers may misclassify workers in order to avoid certain liabilities or responsibilities, such as paying into the unemployment system. If you are denied unemployment benefits because employer claims you are an independent contractor and you believe you are an employee, an experienced St. Louis unemployment attorney can help you challenge that classification.

Determining independent contractors v. employees

Because independent contractor classifications can have many adverse implications under the law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets out a specific test that employers and courts should use to make such determinations. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your employment relationship indefinite or long-term?
  • Who has control over your hours worked, how the work is performed, and how much compensation you receive?
  • Are you free to work for other companies?
  • Who provides the tools and materials for the work to get done?

These are only a few indicators of employees v. independent contractors and much of the test comes down to who has control in the employment relationship. Do you set your own hours, provide your own materials, set your own rates, and work for several companies at once? If you answered yes to most of these, you are likely an independent contractor. On the other hand, if the company dictates when you work, what you wear, what tools you use, and more, you are likely an employee.

The test to determine whether or not you are an independent contractor can be complex. At the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp, we know how to assess your situation and will stand up for you if you should qualify for unemployment benefits. Call our office today at (314) 942-3005 for assistance.


What if a Discharged Employee was Dishonest?

Dishonest LiarMany employees who act in a dishonest manner may try to claim that their actions did not rise to the level of misconduct, and will therefore argue that they deserve unemployment benefits. In a recent case, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a decision that an employee committed misconduct by falsifying a medical form regarding his ability to work.

The recent court decision

The Missouri Supreme Court found in favor of the employer, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), in a recent appeal regarding unemployment benefits. In this case, the employee had suffered injury at work and was forced to take some time off. After visiting his doctor months later, he provided MoDOT with the required form stating he could return to work, which was dated August 2. Also on the form was a handwritten note that stated the following: “finish medecine [sic] and return to work on 8/8/.” The MoDOT supervisor was suspicious because he doubted that a doctor would misspell the word “medicine,” so he followed up directly with the doctor’s office. The doctor stated that he simply gave permission to return to work on August 2, and did not write the handwritten note on the form. MoDOT discharged the employee due to the falsification of the medical form.

In his unemployment hearing, the discharged employee stated that his actions did not rise to applicable misconduct because the conduct was not connected with his work, and that MoDOT was not actually prejudiced by his conduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, and held the employee did partake in misconduct that disqualified him from receiving unemployment benefits following his discharge. This case demonstrates that courts will protect the rights of employers in unemployment cases.

At the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp, we are committed to making sure that employers are not required to pay for unemployment benefits to employees who are discharged for any type of misconduct. We know how to stand up for the rights of both employers and employees in unemployment hearings and appeals. If you have any issue regarding unemployment benefits for dishonest employees, do not hesitate to contact our office at (314) 942-3005 as soon as possible for assistance.

Practice Area:

Should I Sign a Severance Agreement with my Missouri Employer?

severance agreementGetting laid off from a job is almost always a stressful experience, especially when you do not have another professional opportunity available right away. You may be immediately concerned about how you are going to pay your bills or support your family while you search for a new job, which can sometimes take weeks or months in today’s economic climate. If your employer offers you a severance package that allows you to continue to receive benefits or part of your salary for a certain period of time, you may jump on the opportunity for a sense of security.

However, you should never hastily sign a severance agreement without first going over the details with an experienced unemployment attorney. Severance agreements are contracts and, once you sign it, you are often locked into the terms of that contract. Some of these terms may limit your rights and you may not even realize it if you did not consult with an attorney.

Some rights that may be limited include the right to sue for possible discrimination or wrongful termination. Some agreements may also limit your right to find work with a competing company for a certain period of time. The severance pay offered may not be worth giving up these rights, and an attorney can help you weigh your options.

Even if you decide to sign a severance agreement, you may often also apply for unemployment benefits. An experienced lawyer at our office can also help you through that process so that you receive all the possible benefits available to you until you find new employment.

If you have been offered a severance agreement by your employer, there is likely some language hidden in there that limits some important rights. Before you ever sign anything, you should always contact the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp to go over every detail of the severance agreement. We are committed to making sure that companies do not take advantage of St. Louis employees by offering unfair severance agreements. If you have any concerns related to unemployment or severance packages, call our office today at (314) 942-3005.

Practice Area:


Should an Employer Have an Employee Handbook?

employee handbookMany smaller employers may believe that that an employee handbook may be an unnecessary expense in terms of cost and time. After all, in a relatively small operation, it is much easier to keep track of the conduct and performance of your employees, and formalizing company policies may seem redundant.  The reality of the matter, however, is that an employee handbook is extremely important for all employers, regardless of size. An employee handbook can help ensure that your employees are aware of company policy and limit your unemployment tax liability in the event that discharged employees attempt to obtain unemployment benefits.

A common misconception that many employers have is that a clear violation of a policy in an employee handbook will result in the denial of unemployment benefits. Under Missouri law, an employee’s misconduct has to rise to a certain standard in order to be denied unemployment benefits. Issues such as mere absenteeism or lack of work generally do not rise to the level of misconduct that would justify the denial of benefits.

While the violation of a policy contained in an employee handbook may not automatically trigger a denial of unemployment benefits, an experienced unemployment attorney can often help present the policies in the handbook in a light that triggers such a denial. In addition, a lawyer can review your handbook and ensure that your internal discharge and resignation policies are written in such a way as to limit your unemployment tax liability.

In addition to discharge and resignation policies, and employee handbook should also include information on:

  • Policies for reporting discrimination
  • Drug testing procedures
  • Policies regarding absenteeism
  • Workplace violence policies
  • Compensation policies
  • Procedures for employee complaints
  • Appropriate use of electronic devices
  • Appropriate use of company resources

Contact a St. Louis unemployment attorney today to schedule a free consultation

Whether you are employee seeking unemployment benefits or an employer seeking to challenge a former employee’s benefits, you should discuss your case with an experienced St. Louis unemployment lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp today at (314) 942-3005.


Unemployment Appeal Hearings, Supplemental Testimony and New Hearings

appeal hearingAfter an unemployment appeal is heard and a party files for a review before the Commission, the Commission can uphold the referee’s decision or they can reverse or remand it for another appeal hearing. That hearing can start all over again, or just seek supplemental testimony.

In a recent ruling, the employer did not appear at the first unemployment appeal hearing since the Division of Employment Security did not determine that the employer was an “Interested Party.” The employer successfully challenged and as a result the Correlative Order was set aside and a new unemployment appeal hearing was set. The Claimant (employee) did not show up and only the employer’s testimony was taken. None of the Claimant’s testimony from the first hearing was considered and absent any testimony at the new hearing, the employer won and unemployment compensation benefits were denied.

The lessons learned include that employers should check their tax charge sheets, it does pay to appeal, and yesterday’s win does not create a win for today. Kenneth Carp at www.unemploymentlawfirm.com acts as counsel regarding unemployment compensation and seldom goes a day without representing parties at unemployment appeal hearings.

As an Employer, do I need to pay Unemployment Tax?

tax adviceMissouri’s unemployment insurance program guarantees covered workers unemployment benefits in cases where they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The funding for this program is provided by certain employers who are required to pay into the unemployment insurance system through the payment of unemployment tax. Because of the potentially expensive penalties involved with not paying these taxes, is extremely important for employers to ensure that they are in compliance with the applicable state and federal law. Determining whether you are liable can be a complicated process, and depends on a variety of factors including the type of business you run, the number of employees you have, the wages you pay per year, as well as other factors. The best way to ensure that you do not run afoul of the applicable law is to discuss your case with a St. Louis unemployment attorney as soon as possible.

Who can be liable for unemployment tax?

One category of employer is completely exempt from paying any unemployment tax – Churches and religious orders. Other than this group of employer, all others may trigger liability by crossing certain thresholds. Below is information regarding the 5 categories of employers that can be liable:

  • Governmental entities, including federally recognized Indian Tribes – any governmental entity is required to pay unemployment tax if it employer even one worker.
  • Nonprofit organizations (501(c)(3)) – A nonprofit organization is liable for unemployment tax if it employs four or more workers for some portion of a day in 20 different weeks.
  • People or organizations that employ household or domestic workers – These employers become liable for unemployment taxes if they pays more than $1,000 in cash wages in a calendar quarter. In addition, employers of domestic workers become liable if they become liable under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) and employ a worker in Missouri.
  • Employers of agricultural workers – Employers of agricultural workers are liable for unemployment tax if they employ 10 or more workers in 20 different weeks or pays $20,000 wages in a calendar quarter. Additionally, they become liable if they become liable as an agricultural employer under FUTA and employ an agricultural worker in Missouri.
  • General business employer – These employers become liable if they pay $1,500 in wages in a quarter or have a worker for some portion of a day in each of 20 different weeks. In addition they become liable for unemployment tax if they become liable under FUTA and employ a worker in Missouri.

Contact a St. Louis unemployment attorney today for a free consultation

Compliance with employment law, including payment of unemployment taxes, is critical for the success and continuation of any business. To schedule a free consultation with attorney Kenneth P. Carp, call our office today at (314) 942-3005.