Federal law prevents states from offering unemployment benefits to claimants who are unemployed through their own fault. In North Carolina, this includes claimants fired for cause by their former employers. The burden of proof falls on the former employer, though, so if the state Employment Security Commission doesn’t receive evidence you were fired for cause, you may still collect benefits. However, if your employer does provide evidence, you can collect only if you can provide more-compelling evidence that you weren’t fired for cause.
Unless there is a contract stating otherwise, at-will employment laws allow an employer to fire you for any reason it sees fit, with the exception of situations covered under anti-discrimination laws. There are many ways and reasons to be terminated from a job, but being fired implies that the reason you were let go was due to your own actions. You might be fired for poor job performance, violating company polices or any type of misconduct.
If you were fired from your job, you typically cannot collect unemployment. Unemployment benefits are limited to those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If your employer fired you for cause, the reason for the job separation is attributed to you. Otherwise, you could purposely get yourself fired and then go collect payments from the state. The Employment Security Commission enforces this law by reviewing each application for a qualifying job separation reason.
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When you apply for North Carolina unemployment benefits, the Employment Security Commission asks you why you are unemployed. Then it contacts your former employer to verify the reason. Your former employer’s payroll tax rate is partially based on the number of former employees it has that have collected unemployment benefits. So, it has an interest in keeping unqualified claimants from collecting benefits. If you were fired, your former employer will tell the Employment Security Commission in its answer to your claim.
Since your employer has the burden of proving that your job separation doesn’t qualify for unemployment benefits, the Employment Security Commission will ask it for proof you were fired for cause. If it can’t provide proof, you may receive unemployment benefits even though you were fired. If your former employer can provide proper evidence, the Employment Security Commission gives you the opportunity to provide your own evidence. The best type of proof would be written communication between you and your former employer where it states the reason you were terminated is not attributable to you. You might also provide a notarized witness statement from former colleague with knowledge of your job separation.
Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.