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Can I get California unemployment benefits if I was fired?

How to get compensation if I'm fired from my job in California

Don't skip over this section (if you need money) - this is very important!

When you're fired from your job, you need to start thinking right away about what you can and should do in order to improve your economic situation. Meaning, what you're going to be able to do in order to get money. I don't need to tell you how hard things can quickly get if you're no longer getting the paycheck that you're used to.  That's why you need to start taking action immediately.  For example, every day you wait to file for benefits is another day that you are going to have to wait in order to get your benefits.  Every day that you wait to take action is another day that you may be going without getting the money that you need to live.  Your problem though is not only taking action - which is very important - but also taking the right action to protect you and your family. 

In this article, I discuss your options if you're fired from a job. I strongly suggest that you don't just "skip over" some of these sections. You need to fully understand your options or you could be potentially, leaving a lot of your money on the table.  After all, do you want the company that fired you to add insult to injury by getting to keep your money because you did nothing? 

A quick example 

Let me give you a quick example, suppose you were fired for cause and you don't qualify for California Unemployment benefits or California State Disability benefits, you could still be owed a lot of MONEY (read: wages) based upon your employer committing California Labor Code violations.  We get calls like this all the time from folks that get fired from their job.  A family member or friend tells them to call us. 

The person that was fired then gets one of our free, no obligation, Unpaid Wages Analysis and lo and behold they discover that they are owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. Would thousands of dollars help your financial situation? 

What you are going to see is that California wrongful termination law and California wage and hour law is such that most workers have no idea whether or not the company that they used to work for violated California law. For most folks the only way to find out if they're owed thousands and thousands of dollars is to consult with an experienced California employment law lawyer/ labor law lawyer.

Since most folks don't have the money to hire a lawyer to even find out if they have a case, we will do the analysis for you for free. And if we end up agreeing to take your case - you never have to pay us any money out of pocket. We handle all our cases under a contingency fee agreement, where you don't have to pay us unless we win. 

As I explain more in this article - I'm not guaranteeing that you will get money like so many of our clients do.  What I am saying that if you want to get the money that you're entitled to you have to know your legal rights and take the right action to enforce those legal rights. 


Here are some of the options I discuss in this article. 

First,  do you qualify (read: can you get) California unemployment benefits?  And if so, what you need to do in order to make sure you get your benefits. 

Second, do you qualify (read: can you get) California State Disability benefits. And if so, what you need to do in order to make sure you get your benefits. 

Third, do you have a viable wrongful termination lawsuit? 

Fourth, do you have an unpaid wages case?  Again, don't assume that you got paid the wages you were owed. Fact is, most folks have no idea that they may be owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. 

Can I get California unemployment benefits if I was fired?

Yes, if there was no misconduct.

While many people believe that being fired excludes them from California unemployment benefits, that is not always the case. Under California law, any employees who have left employment through no fault of their own and are actively looking for work remain eligible to receive unemployment benefits. As long as the employee has not engaged in any misconduct,  you can collect benefits after losing a job due to: 


Employees who lose their jobs due to company cuts, reductions, mergers, or layoffs are not responsible for the loss of their positions, so they are eligible for unemployment.


Employees who are terminated for misconduct cannot collect benefits. To qualify as misconduct, an employer must be able to show that you substantially breached one of your regular job duties and that your misconduct was intentional and informed. However, if you were fired because you made an honest mistake, were unable to adequately perform your job, or you weren't a good fit for the position, you should be able to collect unemployment as long as you are looking for work.

Too often I see company's trumping up charges just to terminate people in order to get out of paying unemployment benefits.  Time and again, I have seen folks challenge the "alleged misconduct" and go on t get awarded unemployment benefits. 

Resignation or quitting.

In most cases, people who quit their jobs are not eligible for unemployment unless they can show good cause for leaving employment. 

For example, employees who were facing illegal or unethical treatment by their employers (such as harassment, threats, discrimination, or a dangerous work environment) can collect unemployment if they attempted to resolve the situation before leaving their jobs. In addition, employees who need to relocate for family reasons or have pressing health or personal matters may be eligible for unemployment benefits.


Bill Turley is regarded as one of the foremost experts in employment law in California.

This is why Bill is asked to testify before the California legislature on employment law. 


How to get compensatation if I'm fired from my job in California


How California Workers Can Get the Unemployment Benefits They Are Owed

Unfortunately, some employers will misrepresent the terms of an employee’s separation to prevent the employee from collecting unemployment. If you were denied unemployment on the grounds of misconduct or for some other inapplicable reason, you are within your rights to appeal the decision and collect your benefits. 

Good cause and quitting

Good cause to quit:

1. Caring for a family member. If you quit to provide a family member care or if you’re fired for this, then you are eligible for unemployment benefits.

2. Relocation - If your spouse is relocated, then that is good cause. Or if the company is moving - then that is good cause for you to receive unemployment benefits.

3. Health and safety - If the company is committing health and safety violations then that is good cause to quit. You may also be entitled to PAGA penalties so, if this happened or is happening to you - be sure to contact us to discuss this further.

3. Domestic violence - If you have to leave the area do to domestic violence to you or a family member  then that is good cause for you to receive unemployment benefits.

4. Constructive Discharge. If things are so bad at the company that a reasonable person would also quit, then that can be  good cause for you to receive unemployment benefits.

5. Job falls through - If you quit to start another job and that job falls through - then that may be good cause for you to receive unemployment benefits.


How to file a California Unemployment Claim 

I strongly suggest that you just don't go to the State of California webpage (see below) and leave this one. If you don't that you are going to be missing out on a lot of great free information. 

Here is the State of California EDD webpage. 


The top 4 mistakes that folks make that keep them from getting the

California unemployment benefits they are entitled to

Mistake No. 1.  Folks don't file for benefits to begin with.

This is largely for two reasons. First, a lot people think they wont' be off work for very long, so they think why go through the hassle?  This is usually wrong on two fronts.

First,  they think they will only be off work for a few days say or even a week. When this stretches out, then you can be left in a big hole. My strong advice is don't wait. File now. 

Second, they wrongly think they aren't eligible because of why they left. I have seen so many instances where folks didn't think they could get unemployment benefits and they ended up getting them. 


Mistake No. 2. Folks think it's some type of welfare and they don't want the social stigma of getting unemployment 

This is not only wrong, but way wrong.  I suggest that you look at you're paycheck stubs. If you work in California, you are going to see where money is deducted from your check every pay period for you. It goes into you're account so you can get unemployment benefits.  

This is you're money that you are collecting.

It's not the State's money or welfare or whatever.  I suggest that you go get your money. After all, it IS you're money we are talking about. 


Mistake No. 3 - Folks blow the dates 

If and when you file, the State of California is going to send you a notice of determination. If you get denied, you have to respond within the time period stated in the Notice. This is usually 20 days. 

Don't get bent out of shape if you are denied.  Now that you have read this article you will have an idea of what to say if your are denied. But you need to respond in a timely manner. 


Mistake No. 4 - Folks not realizing that the State of California routinely denies legitimate claims 

This happens all the time.  The State would love to keep your money that you paid in. So, they will routinely deny legitimate claims. This happens all the time. You must Appeal in a timely manner (usually 20 days). 


State Disability 

You may be eligible for State Disability is you are unable to perform your job (defined as your usual and customary occupation) due to illness and/or injury. If that is the case, you should apply for State Disability with the California EDD.
You will need your treating physician to provide a form stating that you are unable to work.
Similarly to unemployment, you should not wait in order to file for State Disability.
This is also not “welfare.”  The State takes money out of your check every week in order to fund any claim for State Disability.
Also, similar to unemployment, you can expect your request to be denied. Legitimate cases are denied routinely.
You will need to file a Appeal within 20 days of the Notice of Determination.

California Workers' Compensation 

If you have a work injury, then I suggest that you file a worker’s compensation injury.  There are rules about applying post termination (read: if you get fired) for certain claims. However, if your employer has “notice” of your injury before you were fired, you should be ok.
Your immediate goal here in the short term is to receive temporary total disability - meaning, a weekly workers’ compensation check. Your long term goal is to protect your rights if your work injury turns out to be worse than you expect it to be. 
Legitimate claims are denied routinely, so if your workers' comp claim is denied, don’t get discouraged.
You may need to “lawyer-up” in order to get your California workers comp benefits.

Wrongful Termination 

Illegal termination
Here are some of the illegal reasons for your employer to terminate you:
1.  In retaliation for you enforcing your legal rights. Such as filing a wage claim.

2.  Because you reported your employer to a government agency. Such as for illegal dumping of chemicals or for OSHA violations.

3  In violation of a contract. Or there may be an “implied contract,” or a union contract.

4.  Because of your race, religion, gender, color, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, pregnancy, medical condition, language, or marriage status.
If you suspect that you were terminated for any of these reasons you should consult with a wrongful termination lawyer immediately. Do not wait one more day.

Failure to get paid all the wages you're owed 

There are many, many ways that companies don't pay workers all of the wages that they are owed.  For many companies, not paying wages is almost as certain as death and taxes.  The only thing is that most workers have no idea when they are getting cheated out of their wages. 

California has some of the strong worker protection laws. What I see every day is companies coming into California and not following California’s strong worker protection laws. Companies feel like they don’t have to pay California workers wages that they don’t have to pay in other States.

Company management justify not paying all the wages that you are entitled to under California law because they feel these wage laws are “nit-picky” and aren’t fair to the company. So companies - big and small -  routinely break California’s wage laws.


Free, confidential, no obligation unpaid wages audit 

If you’re like a lot of workers you may suspect that you aren’t getting paid all of the wages that you worked hard to earn. You might not be getting rest breaks or meal breaks. Or you might not be getting paid for all the time you work. Maybe not getting overtime. Or any number of other ways you may not getting paid all your wages.

Click here for you to get your free, confidential, no obligation unpaid wages audit. Get the peace of mind to know that you're getting all the wages you are entitled to.  In other words, find out when the company owes you unpaid wages. 



Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. 

William Turley
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