If you were recently fired and denied unemployment compensation benefits by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), you have the right to appeal their decision. Due to your current financial circumstances, you might think that hiring a lawyer to represent you during the appeal process could be too expensive. But keep in mind that you may find that an initial consultation with an unemployment lawyer before you have to decide whether you want to file an appeal may reveal claims you did not consider that have real value to you, in addition to the claim for unemployment benefits.
During a free consultation, you will be able to determine whether the attorney is a good fit for you, get a sense of the fees and costs associated with your claim, and have the opportunity to talk to an unemployment benefits attorney who can answer your questions regarding the Florida unemployment benefits appeal process.
What an Unemployment Lawyer Can Do for You
Before moving forward with your unemployment benefits appeal, you want to consider speaking to an unemployment compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Why? Because you only have 20 calendar days to appeal the Florida DEO’s denial. A lawyer can help decide if you have a case by reviewing the circumstances of your firing. In addition, he/she will be knowledgeable of the system and procedures, which can ensure that you have all of your bases covered.
If it’s determined that you may also have a case for being wrongfully terminated, your unemployment benefits appeal may just be the first step in the legal process, which could ultimately result in a substantial financial award. However, you need to make certain that you were illegally fired and have the facts to prove so. After all, an unemployment lawyer can build a persuasive case, and his/her success down the road may turn on decisions you make at this first step in the process. There may be strategic reasons not to appeal and create a record or it may be that you want to take full advantage of this early opportunity to create a sworn record and set some of the facts in stone. The value of a well-prepared appeal may far outweigh the costs you incur to retain counsel early in the process.
If you have a basis to appeal a denial of benefits, a lawyer can then help you prepare the paperwork for your appeal, including explaining why you deserve to receive unemployment benefits, as well as gather witness testimony and submit evidence on your behalf. Again, time is of the essence because you will typically receive your notice of hearing just 10 days prior to your hearing date, which could make it difficult for you alone to gather all the evidence you need.
Your former employer will likely be represented by an attorney at the unemployment benefits appeal hearing, so it would be in your best interest to also have legal representation. In addition, when Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Law was amended in 2011, employees were no longer presumed to be entitled to unemployment compensation benefits, which has made it even more difficult for individuals to prove that they deserve to receive unemployment benefits. And your appeals hearing is the only opportunity you will have to argue your case and present evidence. So an experienced unemployment compensation attorney can be an invaluable resource.
If you decide to move forward based on the evidence that supports your case, and your appeal is accepted by the Office of Appeals, they will schedule a hearing held by an appeals referee. The hearing is conducted by phone. During the appeals hearing, an unemployment lawyer can be indispensable in handling a number of key aspects of the appeal and taking the burden off of you, including:
- Presenting documents and other evidence
- Questioning your witnesses
- Questioning your former employer’s witnesses
- Examining and objecting to the evidence presented
- Explaining or rebutting the evidence presented
- Making a closing statement at the conclusion of the hearing
Contact an Unemployment Lawyer in Florida Today
If you’ve been denied unemployment benefits by the Florida DEO, you want to ensure that you have the best chance of winning your unemployment benefits appeal. An unemployment compensation lawyer can help you determine if you have a case and help you decide if you want to pursue an appeal. If you have any questions about wrongful termination or filing an unemployment benefits appeal, Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.