What To Do When an Employer Contests Unemployment Benefits

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What happens when you file for unemployment and your employer contests your claim? In most cases, a company appeals your unemployment claim when they don’t consider you eligible to receive unemployment benefits. This could be for one of several reasons related to your termination of employment.

But your former employer doesn’t have the final word on whether you are eligible for benefits. You can file an appeal with your state unemployment office. If your appeal is granted, you may be able to recoup the money. However, it’s essential to know how the process works in order to maximize your chances of winning the appeal.

Here's information on when an employer can contest an unemployment claim and how to handle it if it happens to you.

Key Takeaways

  • An employer may contest an unemployment claim if they don’t consider you eligible to receive benefits.
  • States determine unemployment eligibility, but in general, you will be able to claim benefits unless you were fired for cause, quit your job, or worked as an independent contractor.
  • If your unemployment insurance claim is denied, you can file an appeal with your state unemployment office.
  • During the appeals process, continue filing for unemployment to ensure that you receive payments for those weeks if your claim is upheld.

How Unemployment Works

Unemployment insurance is a state and federal support system for employees who are temporarily out of work. The system pays benefits from funds collected in taxes on the employer.

Each state sets a requirement for the time a job must be held and the total wages the employee had to earn. States also set the no-fault conditions that qualify for you losing a job and will allow you to be eligible to receive benefits.

In most cases, the employee does not pay into the system. The amount of unemployment tax an employer pays is based on the number of unemployment claims in the employer’s account. If the employer believes that an employee is not eligible for unemployment benefits, an employer may contest or challenge an employee's claim for benefits.

Reasons an Employer May Contest a Claim

Some typical reasons for unemployment disqualification include when an employee is fired for cause or misconduct, when the employee quits, when the person didn’t have enough hours or weeks of employment to qualify, or when they were considered a contractor rather than an employee.


Employers will receive notification of a claim filed against them. They will be able to review the information presented by the ex-worker and disagree with any items listed.

What Happens When an Employer Contests Your Claim?

If your employer contests your unemployment claim, your case will be reviewed by an investigator from your state department of labor. The investigator will analyze the information provided by the employer and may interview the employer to gather additional insights.

You may be contacted to answer some questions about the circumstances surrounding your separation from the job. Make sure that you respond quickly, thoroughly, and honestly to any requests for information. The staff from the unemployment office will then decide whether you are eligible for benefits.


If you are accepted for benefits, the employer can still request a hearing to appeal the decision.

If you are denied benefits, you will receive written notification of that decision, which will include information regarding the appeals process and the deadline for filing an appeal.

The Unemployment Appeals Process

The appeals process will vary by state. Contact your state unemployment office for a determination of your specific circumstances and how appeals are handled in your state. The information can usually be found on the state unemployment website, but don’t hesitate to contact the office with any questions or if you need clarification.

In general, here's how it works:

  • Your legal representative can participate in the hearing and provide advice, but you will be required to present your case.
  • You can use witnesses who might counter any claims that the employer may be making as grounds for denying benefits. Your employer can also have witnesses to support its position.
  • Be sure to have copies of any documentation that might be used to negate claims by your employer of misconduct.
  • You must continue to file weekly unemployment claims throughout the appeals process if you wish to receive benefits for those weeks.

How To Handle an Appeal

The more documentation you can provide to support your claim for unemployment benefits, the more likely you will be to prove your eligibility successfully. You should assemble any attendance records, time sheets, pay stubs, notes, emails, human resources files, letters from supervisors and colleagues, and any other supporting evidence of the legitimacy of your claim.

Your employer will be required to do the same, and the appeals board will decide which claim will prevail.


Be sure to file your appeal before the deadline and continue to file for benefits while the appeals process plays out, or you will not receive benefits during that time.

Both parties are allowed to appeal the decision, and the appeals board will determine the outcome during a hearing. You will need to attend every meeting, or have a written legitimate excuse. Otherwise, you risk losing your case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some reasons that an employer can contest an unemployment claim?

Some of the reasons an employer can contest a claim for unemployment benefits include when the employee was fired for misconduct, quit voluntarily without good cause, is still working, refused an offer of suitable work, or is not available to work.

How long does an employer have to contest an unemployment claim?

In many states, employers have only two or three weeks to contest a claim for unemployment benefits. For example, employers in New York have 10 days to contest a claim. In Georgia, employers have 15 days to appeal. Check with your state unemployment agency for guidelines.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "State Unemployment Insurance Benefits."

  2. SHRM. "How To Determine if You Should Contest an Unemployment Claim."

  3. Virginia Employment Commission. "Benefits Eligibility."

  4. U.S. Department of Labor. "Benefit Denials."

  5. New York State Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Employer Guide."

  6. Georgia Department of Labor. "File an Appeal."

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