If you have been fired or you quit your job, you should make a claim for unemployment benefits.

How to File an Initial Claim for Unemployment Benefits in Missouri

In Missouri, the easiest way to file an initial claim for unemployment benefits is to file the claim online through the Missouri Department of Labor’s website.  Click here to be taken to the online application.

After you have filled out the initial application, all of the employers who have paid you wages recently will be notified and have the chance to protest you recieiving benefits.  This is because they all paid towards your benefits.  You will also recieve paperwork to fill out based on the initial issues identified by the state.   You should be sure to regularly check your mail and promptly return any and all papework and phone calls from Division of Employment Security.

After recieving information from you and the relevant employer, a deputy will make their determination as to whether or not you qualify for unemployment benefits.  If the deputy determines you were fired for misconduct, you voluntarily quit, or you are not available for work, then you will be disqualified from recieving unemployment benefits until you have worked for at least another six weeks.  If you disagree with this decision, you need to file a timely unemployment appeal.

The Unemployment Appeal Process

If either you or an employer disagrees with the determination regarding your benefits, the party who disagrees can appeal the decision in writing within thirty days.  The first level of an unemployment appeal is an appeal to an administrative law judge, usually called a Referee.  The Referee will hold a hearing where testimony from the employer, the employee, and other witnesses can be presented under oath.  Documents and other evidence will also be considered.  The hearings are usually held by conference call, but you do have a right to an in person hearing.  The in person hearing must be requested at least forty-eight hours prior to the scheduled telephone hearing.

This hearing is very important for several reasons.  First: any further appeals will be based on the record created at this hearing and the facts as determined by the Referee at this hearing.  You generally cannot introduce new evidence later and you generally cannot try to change a determination of fact after it has been made.  Second: this hearing is important for any other employment based claims you may have (i.e. discrimination claims, claims for unpaid wages)  because the testimony is under oath and can be used both for and against you in any other litigation.

Due to the appeals process, your best chance to get your denied unemployment benefits decision changed, is to hire an experienced unemployment appeals attorney prior to the initial appeal hearing.

Appeals to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission

If you still disagree with the decision of the Referee, you can continue to appeal the decision.  To do so, you must submit a written request for reconsideration within thirty days of the Referee’s decision.  Information for how to send the appeal will be on the Referee’s decision.  This appeal is done without a hearing by the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.  The Commission will review:

  • a transcript from the previous appeals hearing;

  • the evidence presented at the previous appeals hearing; and

  • written arguments as submitted by the parties.

Based on a review of those materials, the Commission will decide to either agree with the Referee’s decision, change his decision, or send the matter back to the appeals division for a new hearing.  As a practical matter, the Commission generally approves the Referee’s decision.

Appeals from the Commission’s Decision

If you still do not agree with the Commission’s Decision, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals for the region where your case originated.  For those in the St. Louis area, the appeal would be filed with the Eastern District Court of Appeals.  At every level of appeal, the chances of changing the decision get more and more remote.

If you have any questions at all regarding your eligibility for unemployment benefits, call Flesner Wentzel at (636) 442-4529 for a free consultation with one of our experienced unemployment appeals attorneys.