Jana R. Barnett, Esq
(610) 478-1860


Unemployment compensation benefits are intended to provide a safety net for deserving people who are unemployed.  Persons who are fired, as well as persons who quit, can receive unemployment compensation ranging from$35 -$547/week.  Benefits are taxable income.  Payments are made by debit card or direct deposit.

Generally, persons who were fired or laid off are eligible for unemployment compensation unless they engaged in “willful misconduct”.  This term is defined by case law, rather than by statute.  The employer must prove that the former employee’s behavior demonstrated a serious disregard of the employer’s interests, and that the misconduct was directly connected to his or her work.  If the employer meets its initial burden, the employee has the opportunity to prove good cause or justification for his or her actions.  Put another way, employees may be denied unemployment compensation benefits where the employer proves that it has a reasonable work rule of which the employee is aware, the employer consistently enforces the work rule, the employee was fired because he or she violated the rule, and the employee did not have adequate justification for violating the rule.

Another general rule is that persons who quit are not eligible for unemployment compensation unless they quit for a “necessitous and compelling reason”.  Again, the term is defined by case law, rather than by statute.  The employee must prove that he or she experienced so much pressure that he or she was compelled to quit.  The employee must have made a reasonable effort to preserve the employment, which often is interpreted as requiring the employee to explain the problem to the employer and given the employer a reasonable amount of time to make appropriate changes to the workplace.  The question is whether a reasonable person in the same situation would have acted as the employee acted.

People may file claims online or by telephone.  If you prefer to call, please know that, generally,  more calls are made to the UC Service Centers on Mondays and Tuesdays than on Wednesdays through Fridays.  Telephone lines are open from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 7:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.  Call volumes tend to be lighter at the beginning and end of the day.  Because claims are filed for a week at a time, it does not matter whether a claim is filed on a Monday or Friday.

Once people file for unemployment compensation, the employer will be given an opportunity to respond to the employee’s claim. A claims examiner will issue a notice of determination, which explains whether the person is eligible or ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits, and the bases for the conclusion.  Both the employer and employee have the ability to appeal the claims examiner’s determination within 15 days of the date that the determination was mailed.  The deadline for appealing will appear on the determination.  If either appeals, a hearing will be held before a referee.  The referee’s decision will be written. The losing side has the right to file an appeal to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.  The side may choose to request a transcript of the hearing, and the right to file a brief.  The UCBR may reverse a referee without taking new evidence.  The losing party may request that the UCBR reconsider its decision, but has only fifteen days after the issuance of the decision to make this request.  The losing party also may appeal to the Commonwealth Court within thirty (30) days of the mailing of UCBR’s decision.

To read statutes and related materials, please use the drop-down menu.

If you need assistance with an unemployment compensation matter, call Attorney Jana Barnett at 610/478-1860 or e-mail Attorney Barnett, and she will reply as quickly as possible.