If you have a straightforward unemployment claim, you will likely be able to file for unemployment benefits on your own, without any help from a lawyer. Your claim is relatively simple if you can easily meet the Louisiana earnings requirements to qualify for benefits, and you and your employer agree that you lost your job through no fault of your own (for example, because you were laid off or had to quit when your military spouse was transferred to another state).
But if your case is more complicated, it might make sense to consult with or hire an unemployment lawyer to represent you. An unemployment lawyer can help you if you are facing any of the situations described below.
1. Your Employer Claims You Were Fired for Misconduct
You may not be eligible for benefits in Louisiana if you were fired for misconduct connected with your job.
If your employer fights your claim for unemployment on the grounds that you were fired for misconduct, you should consider talking to a lawyer. In this situation, there will likely be a hearing on your eligibility for benefits, at which your former employer may have its own attorney.
2. Your Employer Claims You Quit Voluntarily
Unemployment benefits are not available if you quit your job voluntarily. However, if your employer forced you to quit, or you quit for a reason that's protected by law, you are still eligible for benefits.
In Louisiana, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits if you quit without good cause connected with your job.
An unemployment lawyer can help you figure out whether you are eligible for benefits – and prove it to the unemployment agency.
3. Your Claim for Benefits Is Denied
If the Louisiana Workforce Commission denies your initial claim for benefits, you have the right to file an appeal with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Appeals Unit. An unemployment lawyer can help you decide whether an appeal makes sense and, if so, help you file the paperwork and make your case in the most persuasive way. To learn more on the Louisiana rules and deadlines for filing an appeal, see Can I Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Louisiana?
4. Your Appeal Is Denied
Even if the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Appeals Unit denies your appeal, you still have another chance to win your case. Every state has a second-level appeal process, whether to a state agency or tribunal or to state court. If you are considering taking your case to state court, you will almost certainly need a lawyer’s assistance. Even for an administrative appeal, a lawyer’s help will increase your chances of success. A lawyer can help you clearly explain why your claim should have been granted, with citations to cases and statutes that support your argument.
5. You Have Other Legal Claims Against Your Employer
Were you denied overtime or wages you should have received? Were you discriminated against or harassed at work? Were you fired in retaliation for reporting illegal behavior? Were you wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy? A lawyer can review your employment history and the circumstances of your termination to see whether you might have other legal claims against your employer. If so, you will not only benefit in the unemployment claims process, but you will also have strong grounds to negotiate a favorable severance package with your employer.
If you decide to hire an attorney, see How Can I Find an Unemployment Lawyer in Louisiana for resources that will help you with your search.