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Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC Over 100 Years of Combined Litigation Experience

California’s Unemployment Rate is Starting to Rise: Steps for Employers that Want to Defend a Claim


On January 19, 2024, Courthouse News Service reported that California’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.1 percent—the highest level that it has been at more than two years. An employee who lost a job has the right to file for unemployment benefits. At the same time, an employer can challenge a claim. Within this article, our Riverside County employment lawyer highlights the options employers have for defending an unemployment claim in California.

Step #1: Receive Notification and Verify Details of the Claim

 Workers have the right to file for unemployment benefits. A worker who is laid off or subject to a reduction-in-force (RIF) will generally automatically qualify for unemployment benefits. On the other hand, a worker fired for misconduct may not be eligible for benefits. When an employee files for unemployment benefits in California, an employer will generally receive notification from the California Employment Development Department (EDD). If you are preparing to defend/challenge the unemployment claim, be sure to check every detail in the document, including the employee’s name, their job position, the dates they worked for you, and the reasons stated about why they’re no longer working.

 Step #2: Determine Potential Grounds to Challenge Benefits 

There are only relatively narrow grounds upon which an unemployment claim can be challenged by an employer in California. In California, employees are typically eligible for unemployment benefits if they lose their job through no fault of their own. However, if an employee was let go due to misconduct, violation of company policy, or if they voluntarily quit without a good cause, you might have grounds to contest the claim.

 Step #3: Investigate the Matter and Remember Burden of Proof is on Employers 

As an employer, it is generally your responsibility to prove that an employee’s unemployment claim should be denied. In other words, the EDD will accept most claims, unless an employer presents valid, lawful objections. With this in mind, employers should start by conducting a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the employee’s departure. You may want to talk to supervisors, review emails, and look at performance records. Collect as much evidence as possible to support your case.

 Step #4: Seek Professional Legal Representation 

Unemployment defense is incredibly complex. For employers in California, navigating the process is never easy. Professional legal representation can make a big difference. A California employment lawyer for employers who specializes in employment law can provide valuable guidance. Along with other things, an employer can ensure that you understand your rights, know the validity of the grounds for contesting the claim, and assist you in preparing your response to the EDD. 

Contact Our California Unemployment Defense Attorney for Employers Today

At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, our California employment lawyer for employers has the professional legal experience to handle unemployment defense. Have questions? Call us now or contact us online today to schedule a confidential initial appointment. We help employers with unemployment defense cases in Coachella Valley, Riverside County, and elsewhere in California.


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