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Unemployment Requests From Former Employees

Have you received a Request for Information or Unemployment Award Decision from the a state unemployment agency for an employee who left your employ weeks or months ago? With the dramatic rise of unemployment filings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are receiving unemployment decisions or requests for employment information for former employees who have not been employed by them for a great period of time. 

Under most state unemployment laws, employers can be liable for a former employee’s unemployment benefits up to a year from departure of employment. The standard principles governing an employer’s liability for unemployment benefits continue to control these former employee situations. Meaning, if the employer terminated the employee without just cause or previously laid the employee off in the last year, the employer will likely be liable for the former employee’s unemployment benefits up to a year after departure, even if the employee started new employment immediately after departure.

On the other hand, if for example your former employee resigned or quit employment to take a position with a new employer or to move away, the employer will likely be able to avoid unemployment liability by responding to the information request and providing that the employee resigned or quit on their own accord. The same conclusion also holds true if you terminated the former employee for just cause.

In all cases, regardless of the reason for departure, the former employer will receive a request for information from an unemployment commission as employees have to list all employers over the last year. Therefore, employers must complete and timely respond to these requests for information, including the details surrounding the departure. Employers should include all relevant information as well, including resignation letters/emails or handbook provisions that have been violated leading to a termination. 

If an unemployment commission ultimately holds you, as the former employer, liable for unemployment benefits, it is important that you timely appeal these decisions, including all supporting legal and factual arguments and documents. Otherwise, even as the former employer, you will remain liable for up to 100% of the unemployment benefits award to the former employee.

Bryan Meek is a member of Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s Labor & Employment team and is available to assist you with responding to requests for information and/or appealing unfavorable unemployment decisions. Bryan can be reached at 330.253.5586, or bmeek@bmdllc.com.

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.