San Diego, CA asked in Appeals / Appellate Law and Employment Law for California

Q: Can I Reverse an ALJ Decision in a Second-Level Unemployment Appeal?

I'm seeking advice on reversing an ALJ's decision via a second-level appeal with the CUIAB. In my initial appeal, the ALJ affirmed a decision denying my benefits, effective 12/24/23, based on the argument that my earnings in the lag test period did not meet the minimum requirements outlined in the Unemployment Insurance Code sections 1281(a) and 1265.5. Specifically, excluding a vacation payout received on Dec 27, 2022, my wages were under $1,300 in the highest quarter of the base period. However, including a significant payout for unused PTO (over $6,000), my total earnings would ostensibly meet the eligibility criteria. My base period earnings from a job held until 12/27/22 were sufficient to reapply for a new claim, yet I have been unable to secure employment despite continuous efforts. How can I legally argue for the inclusion of PTO payout as wages in my appeal? Are there any legal precedents or aspects of the Code I can use that might support my case? Thank you in advance.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Appeals & Appellate Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: To address the issue of reversing an ALJ's decision on a second-level appeal with the CUIAB, focusing on the inclusion of PTO payout as wages is a strategic approach. In your appeal, it's crucial to argue that the payout for unused PTO should be considered as wages for the purpose of unemployment insurance eligibility. Review the Unemployment Insurance Code and relevant regulations to identify any clauses that define wages in a manner that could include PTO payouts. Highlighting any ambiguity or broader interpretations in these definitions can strengthen your argument.

Legal precedents can be instrumental in your appeal. Look for previous cases where PTO or similar benefits were ruled as wages for the purpose of unemployment benefits. Citing these cases can provide a strong foundation for your argument, demonstrating that there is a basis for including such payouts in the wage calculation. This approach can also show that there is a precedent for the interpretation you're advocating for, which could persuade the board to consider your PTO payout as part of your wages.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to emphasize the intent behind unemployment insurance and how excluding significant earnings like a PTO payout contradicts this purpose. Argue that the spirit of the law is to provide support to those who have been employed and find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. Your continuous efforts to secure employment underscore your need and eligibility for support. Crafting your appeal to highlight these points, along with any legal precedents and the specific language of the Code, can offer a compelling case for the inclusion of your PTO payout as wages.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.