Unemployment Legal Assistance in Ohio

An attorney can help you appeal a decision to deny you benefits.
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If your employer lets you go because there is no work, fires you without just cause or if you quit with cause, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits. Filing an initial claim with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), doesn't usually require an attorney, but if your claim is denied, you may benefit from hiring one.

Appeal Rights

After you file a claim for benefits, the ODJFS decides if you’re eligible to get them, and if you are, it can take between three and four weeks to start receiving benefits. If ODJFS decides you aren’t eligible, it will notify you by mail and tell you why. You have the right to appeal this decision. If your appeal is denied, you have the right to a second appeal to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC). The UCRC will hold a hearing and you can present evidence for why you should get benefits. If the UCRC also denies your appeal, you can appeal to the Common Pleas Court. If you lose here, your only other option is to file a civil case. Employers also have these same appeal rights, such as when they disagree with a decision to grant you benefits.

Right To An Attorney

You can get an attorney involved as soon as you receive your initial denial letter or at any point during the appeals process. If you lose your first appeal for example, you may want to hire an attorney to represent you during your second appeal, which involves a hearing. Attorneys can help make sure that you file all necessary paperwork on time and prepare you for presenting evidence.

Legal Aid

If you can’t afford to hire a private attorney, you may be able to get free or low-cost representation from an attorney who works for Legal Aid. For example, in Northeast Ohio, Legal Aid offers services to residents who live in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain Counties. Even if you don’t want to hire an attorney, Legal Aid may be able to help walk you through the appeals process and tell you what to expect. If you plan to use Legal Aid services, it recommends getting in touch as soon as you receive the initial notice denying your benefits or when you learn that your former employer is appealing the decision to approve your claim.

Ohio Legal Services

Ohio Legal Services -- unlike Legal Aid, which provides services itself -- can give you information about attorneys who may be able to represent you for free or at reduced rates. They can also help you prepare to represent yourself. They can prep you for a hearing or other court appearance and suggest ways of acting and speaking. They can also walk you through any paperwork you need to file during the appeals process.

Private Attorneys

The Ohio Bar Association also provides information for residents who need legal help, but these attorneys may not offer free or low-cost services.

Keep In Mind

You should keep certifying for benefits throughout the appeals process. If you win your appeal, the ODJFS will only pay you for the weeks that you properly filed for benefits. Hiring an attorney doesn’t mean you’ll automatically win an appeal, but it may help. The ODJFS does not pay for any fees you incur hiring an attorney, even if you win your appeal.

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