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: