Tag Archive for Ohio unemployment compensation

Apply for unemployment compensation

If you are without a class during summer term, apply for unemployment compensation online at the ODJFS website.

Help with your unemployment compensation claim

Excerpt from Sarah Phillips' letter

Excerpt from Sarah Hall Phillips’ letter

UA adjunct wins unemployment appeal

At the University of Akron and some other Ohio institutions, it is routine practice to dispute unemployment claims filed by former employees, including part-time faculty members. This month, a member of UA’s part-time faculty fought the university’s denial of her claim and won.

The adjunct applied for benefits when spring semester ended in May. Her application was approved, and she received benefits from May 18 through June 8.

When UA disputed her claim, the Department of Job & Family Services issued a redetermination saying she was not eligible to receive benefits during the summer months because she had “reasonable assurance of continued employment” with UA for the fall term, as she had received and accepted a verbal offer to teach one course during fall semester 2013.

The adjunct filed a written appeal of the redetermination, and the process moved to the next level — a telephone hearing conducted by a hearing officer with Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Review Commission.

At the hearing, the adjunct represented herself, and UA was represented by Neil Bhagat, an attorney with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, the firm that currently represents UA in its unemployment compensation disputes. UA also had Sheldon Wrice, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, on the line as a witness during the phone hearing.

Here’s how the part-time faculty member who won her appeal described the process:

“the administrator [Wrice] was understanding of my situation. At one point, he stated that I could be bumped by a full time faculty member up until the first day of classes. He also commented that an offer of employment was not a guarantee of employment, and that I did not enjoy the same rights and privileges as it relates to full time status…Although, my individual facts and circumstances could be different from others, they [other adjuncts] certainly will be able to cite the prior court case of the University of Akron v. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as it relates to the reasonable assurance clause in the Ohio unemployment statute.

“As an aside, I think it is important to note that claimants can question witnesses during a telephone hearing. I simply asked questions of the administrator that cast doubt upon the certainty of part-time employment — especially in the areas of bumping and enrollment numbers. I hope this helps others to support their claims when denied unemployment based on this murky ‘reasonable assurance’ issue.”

When hearing officer Emily Briscoe issued her July 22 decision granting unemployment compensation to the UA adjunct, she cited Webster’s Dictionary in defining the terms “reasonable” and “assurance.” See the text of this section below or read the decision in its entirety, with the name of the part-time faculty member redacted by OPTFA to protect her privacy.

reasonable assuranceThe adjunct who won this appeal shared her story with the Ohio Adjunct Discussion Listserv in the hope that “it will help others decide to push forward with their claims and appeals.”

In a message on the listserv, she also wrote:
I do believe that the reasonable assurance justification employed by the University can be challenged. Additionally, I will simply add to the sentiments expressed in a previous [discussion list] thread, that unemployment benefits are our legal right when we lack employment. No one should be discouraged because they perceive some sort of backlash. If you think about it, what are you really losing? With the anticipated cutbacks in adjunct hours and class offerings, we are all vulnerable. The only way to ensure that we are treated fairly is for us to file. Hopefully, we can send a message to academic institutions that we will assert our rights to benefits and pursue them vigorously.

Although adjuncts are entitled to unemployment compensation between terms, they often do not file for benefits for several reasons:

  • They may not realize they are entitled to benefits.
  • They may fear retaliation.
  • They may be unwilling to go through the necessary filing and appeals process because they have heard that the claims of other adjuncts have been denied.

More unemployment compensation resources:

UA changes rule on part-time faculty

The University of Akron Board of Trustees approved a change to University Rule 3359-20-06.1 regarding part-time faculty appointments.

The new terminology reads:

While many part-time faculty may be reappointed from successive academic terms, all part-time faculty are employed on an at-will basis.

The rule formerly read:

While many part-time faculty may be reappointed from successive academic terms, the appointment and any reappointments confer no expectancy whatsoever of continued employment.

UA board rule change

Text of UA rule on adjuncts

Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, said UA’s move was a calculated one.

“It’s clear that this change is intended to make it more difficult for adjunct faculty to collect unemployment benefits. However, New Faculty Majority will simply bring this to state and federal policymakers as a good example of the ways that colleges are trying to have their cake and eat it too.”

We asked employment attorney Nancy Grim whether this rule change would make it more difficult for UA adjuncts to get unemployment compensation. Here was her response:

“Maybe a little more difficult. `Expectation of continued employment’ is a term in the unemployment statutes.  `At will’ means you can be fired at any time for any reason.

“It was convenient that the UofA expressly stated there was `no expectancy whatsoever of continued employment’  (though only useful if people brought that to the attention of the unemployment office or hearing officer in each case).

“Still, this remains a factual question for each case.  As we discussed, applicants should affirmatively submit facts that show they do not have a reasonable expectation of continued employment.”

Here are links to helpful unemployment compensation resources:

Revised on May 10, 2013.

File for unemployment at May 11 “Filing Party”

What: If spring term is over and you are without a teaching assignment, bring your laptop, if you have one, and join your peers to file for Ohio Unemployment Compensation. We will walk you through the unemployment compensation process online and answer any questions you may have.

steve street unemployment compensation initiative

If you teach at the University of Akron and have heard that UA disputes all unemployment compensation claims, you will be interested to know that the university appears to have changed its longtime policy on this issue. Here is what a UA spokesperson said in an April 11, 2013, Akron Beacon Journal story on the issue: “UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey said the university would not appeal claims for unemployment by part-timers who have an expectation of employment from term to term and whose jobs have been eliminated.”

When: Saturday, May 11, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: office of New Faculty Majority and the OPTFA. The address is Copley Commons, 2830 Copley Rd., Suite 26, Copley, Ohio 44321.

Join the meeting online: Visit https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/664710805 and log in using Meeting ID: 664-710-805. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended.

Join the meeting by phone: Call in using your telephone. Dial +1 (404) 891-0552. Access Code: 664-710-805. Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting. Meeting ID: 664-710-805

RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info

Download the event flyer to share with your colleagues.

Get more Event information.

Adjuncts learn how to apply for unemployment at March 20 webinar

Please register for Applying for Unemployment Compensation in Ohio: A How-to for Adjunct Faculty, a free webinar scheduled for Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at noon EDT.

To register, visit:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8006273487003863296

This webinar will explain how adjunct faculty can apply for unemployment compensation in between academic terms and how to contest college and university attempts to appeal awards.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This event is co-sponsored by the New Faculty Majority Foundation and the Ohio Part-time Faculty Association.