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Every year thousands of people in Massachusetts find themselves in a situation where they have lost their employment. Like most other states, Massachusetts provides the ability to apply for unemployment benefits to assist persons who have lost their job. Eligibility for unemployment benefits can depend on a number of factors.
Many individuals are under the impression that it is the employer who makes the determination whether or not a former employee will receive unemployment benefits. This, however, is not the case. Often times employers will inform their employees they will not “contest” their unemployment request but it is important to realize that the Division of Unemployment Assistance (hereinafter referred to as DUA) has the sole discretion to decide if an individual is qualified to receive unemployment benefits. That decision is made by the DUA based largely off the information the claimant provides on their application and any information provided by the employer. The applicant will usually receive notice on whether their claim was approved or denied within a few weeks.
If a claim is approved, employers are generally provided with the opportunity to appeal that determination and oppose the former employee’s claim for unemployment benefits. On the other hand, if a claim for unemployment benefits is denied the claimant has a short window of 10 days to file an appeal. Once the appeal has been filed, the claimant will be given notice of a DUA hearing to determine if the initial decision should be upheld or reversed. It is important for claimants whose claim for unemployment benefits has been denied to continue to claim their benefits while their appeal is pending. In considering whether a claimant or applicant is eligible for unemployment benefits the DUA considers […]
Contract Employee vs. Employee At-Will
Identifying the type of employment agreement you have is a vital step to understanding what your legal rights are if you are terminated from your employment.
It could be argued that all employees are contract employees, insofar as there was an offer of employment, acceptance of the employment duties and consideration – a promise of work for the promise of payment. In some instances these components can create a legally binding contract. Massachusetts, however, recognizes two distinct categories of employment relationships: (1) “contract employees”, and (2) “at-will” employees.
Those employees who are not “at-will” employees are more than likely “contract employees.” This contract may have been entered into in writing, orally, or be implied by actions of the employer.
In Massachusetts, a written employment contract is generally enforceable according to the terms of the contract. This means that if a contract has specific terms outlining compensation, benefits, or how and why an employee can be terminated, the employer is legally obligated to adhere to the terms of the contract. If the employer does not adhere to these terms and provisions, the employee may be able to seek damages as a result of the breach of the employment contract. This also means however, that an employer may be able to sue the employee for damages as well if the employee is the one who breaches the agreement.
Oral contracts and implied contracts are two other examples of ways that an employee may not be considered an employee “at-will.” Massachusetts case law has held that oral employment contracts which may arise “from various representations and negotiations between the parties” may be enforceable. See, Frederick v. ConAgra, Inc. ,713 F. Supp. 41, 44 (D. Mass. 1989). […]