Can You Collect Unemployment If You’Re Laid Off

One of the most asked questions and the most confusing topics is “Can a fired employee collect unemployment payments?” What’s most interesting about this answer is that it’s both yes and no. Another polarizing factor is the stance that many people take on the issue.

So, what is the answer and how do you determine if you qualify for unemployment benefits after you’ve been fired from your job.

If you worked in New York State within the last 18 months, you have the right to file a claim for benefits. We encourage you to file a claim even if you are uncertain. File a claim even if a former employer told you that you would not be eligible or that you were not ‘covered.’

Can You Collect Unemployment If You Get Fired?

State law determines whether a fired employee can collect unemployment. Generally speaking, an employee who is fired for serious misconduct is ineligible for benefits, either entirely or for a certain period of time (often called a “disqualification period”). But the definition of misconduct varies from state to state.

In many states, an employees misconduct has to be pretty bad to render the employee ineligible for unemployment benefits. An employee who is fired for being a poor fit for the job, lacking the necessary skills for the position, or failing to perform up to expected standards will likely be able to collect unemployment. But an employee who acts intentionally or recklessly against the employers interests will likely be ineligible for unemployment benefits. Other states take a harder line, finding that employees who are fired for violating a workplace policy or rule wont be eligible for unemployment benefits, at least for a period of time.

Here are some of the types of misconduct that might render an employee ineligible to collect unemployment benefits:

  • Failing a drug or alcohol test. In many states, an employee who is fired for failing a drug or alcohol test will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. Refusing to submit to testing is also a disqualifying event in some states.
  • Theft. An employee who is fired for stealing from the company or from coworkers will most likely be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.
  • Committing a crime. An employee who commits a crime connected with the job — such as assaulting a coworker, driving under the influence while on company business, or destroying valuable company property — will almost certainly be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Violating safety rules. An employee who makes a careless mistake may still be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, but an employee who willfully or intentionally disregards important safety rules will probably be disqualified from collecting benefits.
  • Even if you are disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because of why you were fired, that disqualification may not last forever. In some states, being fired for misconduct renders an employee ineligible for unemployment benefits, period. In those states, until the employee gets another job, works there long enough to meet the states earnings and/or work tenure requirements, and then becomes unemployed again, that employee will not be able to collect unemployment benefits.

    But in other states, an employee who has been fired for misconduct is ineligible for unemployment benefits only for a set period of time, particularly if the misconduct is less egregious. In other words, a penalty is imposed on the employee, but he or she may become eligible for unemployment benefits once the disqualification period ends.

    To find out more about your states laws on eligibility for unemployment benefits, contact your state unemployment insurance agency. You can find links and contact information for every states unemployment agency at, the Career One Stop site sponsored by the federal Department of Labors Employment and Training Administration.

    Some reasons for termination might make you ineligible for unemployment benefits.By

    To collect unemployment benefits, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. Workers who are laid off for economic reasons—due to a plant closing, a reduction-in-force (RIF), or because of lack of work, for example—are eligible for unemployment benefits.

    But employees who are fired are not always eligible for unemployment, at least not right away. It depends on the reasons why the employee was fired. (For information on your eligibility for unemployment compensation if youve quit your job, see Nolos article Unemployment Benefits: What If You Quit?)

    Rights of Fired Employees

    If you’ve been fired from your job, you do have some rights. While most employees are considered “at will”, which means they can be fired at any time and for any reason – almost. Some terminations are considered illegal, in which case you may have a lawsuit and you may collection unemployment. These situations are:

  • An implied contract was violated
  • The firing violates public policy
  • The employee was discriminated against
  • Termination was in retaliation for an act protected by law
  • If you’ve been fired, and justly so, you may not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, but you do deserve your last paycheck. Some states have laws on how quickly that check must be paid. Severance pay is not legally required unless it has been promised to you in writing or orally.

    Many people who have been fired are concerned about their health insurance, especially when it’s funded by their employer. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA as it’s better known as, gives the employee and their insured family members the option to continue insurance for a predetermined period of time.

    You might be able to receive unemployment if you were fired or downsized due to no fault on your part. If you did something, or didn’t do something, that caused you to be let go from your job, chances are that you won’t receive benefits.

    Can I get unemployment if I quit? (Maybe)


    What disqualifies you from unemployment in California?

    “An individual is disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits if the director finds that he or she left his or her most recent work voluntarily without good cause or that he or she has been discharged for misconduct connected with his or her most recent work.”

    What disqualifies you from unemployment in Illinois?

    There are several ways you can be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits in Illinois: You quit your job without good cause. You were fired due to misconduct connected to your work. You did not have a good reason to apply for Illinois unemployment or did not accept a suitable job offered to you.

    What can disqualify you from unemployment benefits in NY?

    You cannot receive unemployment benefits if you have less than the required work and wages to establish a claim.

    Some good reasons may be:
    • you have been called for jury duty;
    • you have not had time to meet with your lawyer or representative; or.
    • you need more time to gather evidence.

    What to do if you get fired and have no money?

    Apply for unemployment benefits

    If you’re let go or furloughed, you may qualify for weekly unemployment insurance benefits. And if you received a pay cut or had your hours reduced, you may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits, too.

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