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Friday, July 5, 2013

Alabama Unemployment Compensation Bootcamp for Employers

By Tommy Eden

With no one to guide you, winning an unemployment compensation claim in Alabama on behalf of the employer can at times seem like a high wall to climb. This past week Alabama Department of Labor General Counsel Joey Ammons and I conducted a webinar Bootcamp session for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System teaching employers how to strengthen their skills to become “fit” enough to navigate the obstacle course and win more unemployment compensation claims on behalf of employers. Rosemary Elebash, Alabama Director of the National Federation of Independent Business moderated the sessions.

In 2012 Alabama employers paid more than $460 million in Unemployment Compensation taxes. Poor experience ratings in unemployment compensation cases has a sizable negative impact on an Alabama employer’s tax bill.

Winning unemployment compensation cases lowers an employer’s experience rating which equals lower taxes. Additionally, winning the unemployment compensation case may be evidence that an employer conducted a proper termination which can potentially result in even greater savings in related employment litigation.

Unemployment compensation disqualifications, both total and partial, in Alabama can fit in any one of the following eight statutory disqualification categories:
·        Voluntary quit
·        Act endangering safety of others
·        Use of illegal drugs after previous warning
·        Criminal act
·        Dishonest act
·        Actual or threatened misconduct connected with work- after repeated warning
·        Misconduct - no prior warning
·        License Revocation

Part I of the Bootcamp webinar analyzes how an Alabama employer can present evidence falling into each of the eight disqualifications. Not only is there a great discussion by the General Counsel of the statutory legal definitions, but also practical real-life guidance from actual cases litigated by the Alabama Department of Labor.

Part II of the Bootcamp webinar is a fast-paced Does and Don’ts rope course where we discuss how an Alabama employer can strengthen their grip by using the top 25 tips to win an Alabama unemployment compensation case.

Along the way we discuss potential employment litigation landmines, and how to defuse them, tips for getting an employee resignation in writing, shared warning forms, drug test refusal forms, disciplinary workplace rule language, and handbook policy  tips.
                                                                                                                
Common Sense Counsel: the Alabama Cooperative Extension System should be commended on its 2013 outreach to employers throughout the State of Alabama on a variety of employment law subjects; the most recent of which was Alabama Guns in the Parking Lot Act with Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. All of these sessions can be viewed on the Extension’s YouTube Channel or at www.aces.edu.  There are hot links to all of the sessions at www.alabamaatwork.com as well as the free forms shared on the webinar.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901.

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