Yes, quite possibly. A common question I receive from individuals seeking help with their unemployment insurance is whether they qualify for benefits if their new job doesn’t work out. Most often, this situation rears its head when an employee accepts employment with a new employer while they still have a job. After receiving and accepting an offer of employment and quitting their old job, the employee will face an issue that causes the employer to rescind the offer or terminate them during the introductory period. Most often, the reason will be a discrepancy in a resume or employment background check, a bad reference, or simply a “bad fit” at the new employer.
Employees are usually very upset to learn that there is very little protection in Wisconsin law for such situations because Wisconsin is an employment at will state. If the old employer will not reaccept the employee back into their workforce, typically the employee’s only option is to file for unemployment insurance benefits. The problem, however, is that the employee often has not earned enough money at their new place of employment to re-qualify for benefits. So the question becomes whether they should be able to collect on their account based on the work they performed at their old employer.
There are certain requirements the employee must meet to be able to collect unemployment benefits in this situation. If the employee terminated work from the first employer to accept employment or other work covered by the unemployment insurance law of any state or the federal government, and earned wages in the subsequent work equal to at least 4 times the employee’s weekly benefit rate, if the new work: (1) Offered average weekly wages at least equal to the average weekly wages that the employee earned in the terminated work (more money; (2) Offered the same or a greater number of hours of work than those performed in the work terminated (more hours); (3) Offered the opportunity for significantly longer term work (longer tenure); OR (4) Offered the opportunity to accept a position for which the duties were primarily discharged at a location significantly closer to the employee’s domicile than the location of the terminated work (significantly shorter commute); then they qualify for benefits.
Employees who are discharged for failing employment background checks, reference checks, or because their new employer changes their mind about hiring them should apply for unemployment insurance benefits as one normally would. An employment attorney may useful to help determine whether the employee re-qualifies for benefits.
Attorney Nicholas M. McLeod is an associate attorney at Alan C. Olson & Associates, S.C. If you have questions about unemployment insurance or other employment issues, please contact him at: [email protected]