Losing a job involuntarily is often a deeply traumatic experience — one with mental and financial repercussions. Unemployment benefits are often a lifeline in these situations, as they provide badly needed financial support to people who suddenly find themselves without their primary source of income.
Yet it’s important to recognize that unemployment benefits in Connecticut are not given in every situation. To help you understand who qualifies, let’s dive into how the state unemployment benefit system operates.
Can I Be Denied Unemployment Benefits?
The unemployment system is designed to help people who are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own. However, there are certain eligibility rules that must be met. The rules are overseen by the Connecticut Department of Labor, which handles all claims on a case by case basis.
In order to be eligible, those applying for benefits must meet three criteria:
- Your termination must have occurred through no fault of your own
- Your earnings over the last 4 quarters must reach a certain predefined level
- You must be able to work and actively seek employment
Your earnings eligibility is determined by calculating how much you’ve earned over the last four calendar quarters. This amount must be at least 40x the weekly benefit rate. Your weekly benefit rate is determined by taking what you earned in your two highest quarters (a quarter is roughly 3 months) and dividing that number by 26. Connecticut also has a maximum weekly unemployment benefit ($631), which is one of the highest in the nation.
If you quit your job, you can be denied these benefits unless you can show that it was for a “good cause” — such as an adverse effect on your health or a family member who needs to be cared for. Being fired, however, does not necessarily mean you can’t collect benefits. Typically, the employer must contest your unemployment benefits by showing you were fired for “willful misconduct.” This can mean things such as a repeated pattern of absences or tardiness, failed drug tests, working while intoxicated or theft.
If you are awarded benefits, you must “conduct a reasonable search for work” and accept suitable employment if offered.
A Connecticut Employment Law Attorney Who Fights For You
If your ex-employer is attempting to prevent you from collecting unemployment funds — or if you’re suffering any form of employment discrimination — we urge you to contact Brickley Law for a free consultation today. We can help ensure that you are treated fairly — and we’ll do so with compassion and sensitivity.