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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Appealing Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

    My question involves unemployment benefits for the state of: Arkansas.
    I had an appeal hearing concerning denial of UI benefits, which went against me. Here is part of the Reasoning and Conclusions: "The claimant quit due to a change in his work schedule. The claimant testified he was hired to work part-time, three days per week. . .Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. . . . The claimant provided documentation that did not indicate a specific time or day of the week which the claimant was to work due to his medical condition. . . . [B]ut when the employer requested documentation from the claimant's physician it was not supplied. The claimant has not proven that the employer violated the terms of employment nor. . .proven that his medical condition was limited to the days of the week in which he wished to work. . . . The claimant voluntarily left last work without good cause connected with the work."
    I did not do well at the hearing, but a few salient points were either bypassed or minimized. 1. At least two episodes of verbal abuse occurred, which I subsequently found out constitute violations of OSHA's Workplace Violence provisions. 2. To my knowledge, when I told my boss I could provide documentation from my doctor, I was not specifically asked to do so. 3. I was given an "either-or" ultimatum, to change my work schedule to what the boss wanted, or "don't bother coming back" (exact quote). 4. I had every intention of going to full-time work, but I did not know that the job tasks would aggravate a long-time back injury, for which I have had to apply for SSD, nor did I know that the mental stress would similarly aggravate my depression, affect my sleep, and leave me physically exhausted. 5. My doctor wanted me to keep my stress minimized; the proposed work schedule, while keeping me at the same number of hours per week, would have placed me in the stressful environment five days a week. 6. Though this could be disputed, my boss exhibited traits of narcissism, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; at one point she required we keep a daily log of how long it took us to do any task, including visits to the restroom, smoking breaks, and the like. She wanted absolute, complete control over every employee in as many ways as possible. 7. I did take information concerning my health problems to the relevant people, and was given vague promises that the boss would take them into account.
    8. I do know this person alienated several lawyers in her firm, prompting them to leave. Since I left, at least 4 or 5 other office workers have also left the firm.
    At this point the burden of proof is on me, and I think the strongest arguments may hinge on my working in a hostile work environment--not directed at me alone, please note--and that I had genuine and legitimate concerns relating to my overall health. Arkansas policy mandates a worker must "make reasonable efforts to protect his job rights" before leaving a job, but there are few if any definite provisions to do so, as I understand it.
    I welcome any and all input concerning how to best use these points, as well as any other recommendations, relevant state and federal court decisions, for this one last appeal. I have a fast-approaching deadline to file my appeal, and I would appreciate any responses as soon as possible.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Appealing Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

    Quite honestly, I don't think much of your chances. To start with, you have two concepts completely wrong; one, OSHA has made no rules beyond guidelines with regards to workplace violence and most certainly has not prohibited "verbal abuse", and two, the term, hostile work environment, has a very specific meaning under the law and the employer failing to schedule you for the hours you want, EVEN IF they are the hours the doctor recommends, does not meet that definition. Outside of the ADA, and not always then, your employer has no legal obligation to honor the schedule you want or even that the doctor recommends. Your point 6 is completely irrelevant to unemployment benefits, as is point 8, so I wouldn't rely on them. The fact that you intended to go back full time also does not affect your unemployment eligibility.

    The problem is that it is your boss that sets the work schedule, not you, and even under the ADA the employer is not obligated to schedule you for the hours you want. Your strongest points in a weak case are #2 and #7. Since the basis for your denial is that you did not provide sufficient evidence that there were medical reasons for keeping to the same schedule, those are the points that I'd come down on.

    BTW, unless AR is different from most states, at this point all you have to do is say, "I wish to appeal this decision" and leave your arguments for the hearing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Appealing Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

    I contacted OSHA, and learned that verbal abuse of any sort falls under the OSHA category of workplace violence. Still, I am limited in what I can do, as I am a former employee; the OSHA responses would be far stronger if I still worked at that place.
    Your analysis underscores the point I made earlier, that the burden of proof rests on me. My wish would be for me to give a full picture of the workplace atmosphere, and how the boss was directly responsible for the physical and the mental stress.
    Thanks for your input.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Appealing Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

    And did OSHA say that the employer had violated the law?

    Taken directly from the OSHA website: OSHA has developed guidelines and recommendations to reduce worker exposures to this hazard but is not initiating rulemaking at this time.
    There are currently no specific standards for workplace violence.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Appealing Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

    Yes, according to the OSHA Compliance Guidance representatives I spoke with yesterday, one locally, the other at the OSHA office in DC.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Appealing Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

    Then either the representatives mis-spoke or their website is wrong. Somehow I think the former is more likely.

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