Labor and Employment

Can I Get Unemployment Benefits If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

By Sachi Barreiro, Attorney, University of San Francisco School of Law

It’s a common misconception that unemployment benefits are only available when someone is laid off. In most states, unemployment benefits are available to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Employees who are wrongfully terminated often fall into this category. The same is true for employees who quit due to intolerable working conditions.

When you file your unemployment claim, be sure to explain the circumstances surrounding your termination and why you believe you were wrongfully terminated. For example, if your employer says you were fired for insubordination—but you believe you were really fired for complaining of sexual harassment—explain what happened. Attach documentation showing you complained, such as an email to HR or a signed EEOC complaint.

Once your state’s unemployment agency receives your claim, it will give your employer an opportunity to respond. Your employer might contest your claim, in which case you may need to provide additional information or documentation to the state agency. If your claim is denied, you might need to appeal. (See our article on how to appeal an unemployment denial.) If you already have a lawyer for your wrongful termination case, he or she can also assist you with your unemployment appeal.

Go back to main page of Wrongful Termination FAQs for Employees.

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