Category Archives: Unemployment – Wisconsin

Unemployment: The Legal Decision-Maker Isn’t Your Friend (Or Enemy)

Angry judges and steadfast court reporter
Image by beingkatie via Flickr

If you are an employee seeking unemployment benefits, and you will be talking to an unemployment agency phone interviewer and/or administrative judge, please avoid a common pitfall: don’t assume that the unemployment representative will identify with you, and will be receptive to you complaining about your former employer.

An unemployment representative isn’t your friend.  That representative won’t be receptive to complaints or adjectives,  e.g they won’t want to hear you saying your former employer was “unfair,” “wrong,” “lying,” etc.  A friend or acquaintance (especially one who knows and trusts you) may well be open to accept your opinions, labels and conclusions at face value.  But again, an unemployment interviewer or judge is not your friend.  They don’t know you from Adam, and don’t know the employer from Adam.  You DON’T want their first impression about you to be “This person is a complainer who is telling me what to think without telling me the facts.”

While an unemployment interviewer or judge isn’t your friend, they are not your enemy either.  They don’t want to hear the employer hand-feed them a bunch of conclusions either.  If the employer does the things I am telling you not to– and the employer tells the unemployment representative long-winded sentences with negative labels and conclusions– then that will likely serve to your benefit, because the unemployment rep won’t view that as credible coming from the employer either.

An unemployment interviewer and judge want the facts.  As such, they will ask you factual questions: who, what, where, when, why, how.  If you respond to these factual questions with factual answers — and you discuss persons, places, statements, and actions in factual terms (“My boss stated the sky is green”) rather than opinionated terms (“My boss is a liar”)– then the unemployment representative will better appreciate your information, better be able to perform their job, and will more likely view you to be credible and reasonable.

I have covered most of the suggestions above within other posts.  But these issues are worth repeating and isolating as the topic of this post, because it is instinctive and common for an employee- claimant to treat an unemployment decision-maker as if they have a sympathetic ear that’s open to adjectives.  If you stick to the facts, and let the unemployment decision-maker decide the labels and conclusions that apply, it is more likely the issues will be decided in your favor.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you must talk to an attorney about your specific situation. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your Wisconsin unemployment matter, please contact us here:

WI Unemployment - No Fees Unless You Win

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Attitude Matters at Your Wisconsin Unemployment Hearing

If you are a Wisconsin employee with an unemployment hearing coming up, my post here has comprehensive information about WI unemployment hearing procedure, preparation, and issues to consider.

Stepping back from those detailed issues, there is another, more fundamental issue to consider: attitude.

Your attitude is important, and can make or break your hearing.

The most effective approach and attitude, in my opinion, are discussed as follows.

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Beware of the Employer Who Challenges All Unemployment Claims

Given the hard economic times, and surge of unemployment, Wisconsin employees have reason to be concerned about being laid off or fired from their jobs.

Unfortunately, WI workers have an additional concern: there are some employers out there who appear to challenge the unemployment benefits of most, if not all, of the workers whose employment is terminated.

A challenge-every-unemployment-claim employer may contract with lawyers or vendors whose sole job is to process unemployment challenges by the company.  Unemployment challenges thereby become a streamlined business function.

Apparently, some employers have decided that they benefit financially by challenging every (or many) unemployment claims; by winning some percentage of these challenges, they save money that would have been paid toward unemployment benefits.  And apparently the employer expects the money “earned” from defeating unemployment claims will be more than the money paid to the vendors and lawyers who work to defeat the employees’ claims.

The employers’ most common basis to challenge unemployment is to claim the terminated employee was fired for “misconduct.” If an employee is legally found to be fired for “misconduct” (defined by WI law to basically mean severe wrongdoing that goes above and beyond poor job performance), then they are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

I expect employers to make a surge of overreaching “misconduct” allegations, and a surge of unemployment benefits challenges, that coincide with the increased job terminations during the economic downturn.

For those Wisconsin workers who are laid off (or expect you may be), I have a post here about pursuing unemployment benefits and preparing for an appeal hearing, should there be a dispute over your unemployment benefits.

Please note: I don’t intend to be fear-mongering here.  Most employers do not challenge unemployment in an assembly-line fashion and reserve their allegations of “misconduct” only for a minority of their terminated employees (i.e. those employees who the employer truly believes committed misconduct).  But the assembly-line unemployment-challengers are increasing in number, and tough economic times will further amplify the trend.  Bottom line: in this day and age you cannot assume your employer will act fairly if you apply for unemployment benefits.

You should keep an eye out to make sure your employer is not one of those who treats unemployment proceedings as a business forum to save money, and who value that function over human rights and survival benefits.  If you are one of the unfortunate persons who are laid off or fired, you should ask around, to see if your employer has routinely challenged unemployment for most or all workers.

Regardless of your employer’s track record with unemployment, you should prepare for an unemployment challenge, and you should consider Plan B alternatives in the event that unemployment benefits are denied.  By being aware of these possibilities and planning to prevent them, you will increase your chances of receiving unemployment benefits.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you must talk to an attorney about your specific situation. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your Wisconsin unemployment matter, please contact us here:

WI Unemployment - No Fees Unless You Win

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Three Words You Should Never Say in an Employment Dispute

The late George Carlin famously spoke about seven words you can’t say on TV.

Not one to miss a chance to co-opt, I will offer you three words you should NEVER utter in an employment dispute.

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Employee Tip: Filing for Unemployment in WI; Preparing for Appeal and Hearing

If you are a Wisconsin employee seeking unemployment benefits, you may wish to consider the information and tips below.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you must talk to an attorney about your specific situation. If you are interested in assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown of DVG Law Partner for your Wisconsin unemployment matter, please contact us here:

WI Unemployment - No Fees Unless You Win

The information below is intended to supplement information from the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the agency that administers unemployment benefits.  You can also review DWD’s “Handbookhere, which has detailed information for employee/claimants, and DWD’s FAQs here.

Below is additional information for employees about the unemployment process.

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