PLEASE NOTE: ANSWERS PROVIDED HERE ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney in our office. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

It is important to remember that Nebraska is an at-will employment state. That means that if your private employer fires you, and you are not part of a union and do not otherwise have a written contract, your employer may generally fire you for any reason, as long as that reason is not illegal or in violation of certain public policies. In other words, your employer can be the world’s biggest jerk, have had no reason for firing you, and your firing can be completely “unfair,” but in most cases there is no legal remedy for your firing. The most common exception for this general rule is when your employer has violated your civil rights. Therefore, when you’ve been let go by your employer, you may want to ask yourself these questions before contacting a lawyer:

  1. Is a union involved, or did you have an employment contract with your employer?
  2. Was your firing on account of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, physical or mental disability (or perceived disability), marital status, genetics, service in the uniformed services, or any other classification protected by law?
  3. Was your firing in relation to having recently been injured at work or making a workers’ compensation claim?
  4. Have you complained about not being paid overtime, minimum wage, or similar concerns?
  5. Have you reported your employer to any authorities because of illegal conduct or unsafe working conditions?

Generally, you have to have worked both long enough and recently enough to qualify (paid into Social Security). It may not be sufficient that you worked for many years and paid into Social Security — when you worked is also important. Most people need at least 20 credits earned over ten years (1 credit each three months) .The date on which you would lose your eligibility is called the “date last insured,” which can be found on your social security statement or you can call 1-800-772-1213. If you can prove that you became disabled before your DLI then you would qualify for SSDI benefits. If you cannot prove you were disabled before your DLI then you may be able to qualify for Social Security Insurance, the other disability program under SSA where you have to fall under certain income and resource qualifications.

The fact that you cannot guarantee hours in the future is irrelevant to the determination of unemployment benefits, because Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) looks backward not forward.

One of the basic requirements to receive unemployment benefits is that the employee must establish “monetary eligibility,” by working and earning a certain amount of wages or by working a certain number of hours:

To qualify for benefits the employee must meet the minimum monetary requirements of earning at least $2781.00 in the base period (first four of the last five completed calendar quarters, prior to when the claim is filed), with at least $800.00 in each of two separate base period calendar quarters. Example: If the employee files a claim in the first quarter (January, February or March) the base period would be the fourth quarter of the year before last and the first three quarters of last year. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to when the claim is filed. The insured wages earned during these quarters determines the employee’s monetary eligibility.

Thus as long as they’ve met this requirement, your handbook policy is not going to make a difference on UI eligibility.

Yes, we have Spanish speaking personnel. Please call in and ask for Kelly.