Orlando, FL asked in Employment Discrimination, Employment Law and Public Benefits for Florida

Q: Hello, I have a question about unemployment benefits in the state of Florida

I was working for a company and I got ill and I was not able to work for two months. My FMLA was exhausted and my short term disability claim was denied. My employer decided to terminate me after the two months. I filed for unemployment and the benefits were denied or the following reason: THE CLAIMANT REQUESTED AND WAS GRANTED A LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITH GUARANTEED

RE-EMPLOYMENT. However, I never requested a leave of absence and I was not told I was going to be guaranteed re-employment. I actually received multiple letters stating that if I did not return to work ASAP I could be terminated. On the website there is an option to appeal the denial but I do not know much about the Florida Law so I do not know what I should put in the appeal. Thanks in advance

2 Lawyer Answers
Kevin Sanderson
Kevin Sanderson
Answered
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Sarasota , FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: This is a hard area and the DEO changes its official and unofficial policies often. I would appeal the decision and attend the telephone hearing. Although at one point DEO tried to change their policy to say if you could not work due to illness you were ineligible, some hearing officers seems to have been ignoring this rule and awarding benefits anyway.

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Having done this stuff before--on behalf of many clients--I will first advise you to consider hiring a lawyer to attend the telephonic appeal hearing--because most if not all employers have their lawyers assisting them at these important hearings. Secondly, from what I think you are saying, you applied for and were given FMLA, which ran out before your illness subsided--and your claim for short term disability was denied.

After analyzing everything it appears that the DEO has taken the position that you "requested a leave of absence which guaranteed re-employment"-- which is the definition of the FMLA benefit; so they are correct, as far as that part goes.

However, IMO the fact that your job would still be there waiting for you when the FMLA leave of absence was over does NOT reach the main issues in this situation--which IMO are (1) whether the employee was terminated for cause, i.e. for some misbehavior in the workplace (NO);, or (2) whether the employee resigned (NO);, or (3) whether the employee abandoned the job, etc. (NO).

Your best argument is that (a) you were recovering from your illness while on FMLA; but (b) your recovery was not complete when FLMA ran out; so (c) still not fully recovered you tried to extend the leave time by filing for short-term disability-- but that was denied; and so (d) you were doing everything possible--when they terminated you for no reason within the reasons allowed under the Act.

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