Going all the way back to the Great Depression, Washington State has been a leader in reducing involuntary unemployment and the suffering it causes. Washington's Employment Security Department is responsible for distributing benefits to unemployed workers, but, sometimes, the Department makes incorrect decisions.
Generally, to qualify for unemployment benefits, an unemployed worker must show four things. First, she must have filed an application for benefits. The Department will use this application to automatically register the worker with WorkSource. Second, she must have been unemployed for a one-week waiting period. Third, she must be ready, able and willing to immediately accept any suitable work that is offered to her and must be actively seeking work. Fourth, she must be unemployed through no fault of her own.
You should know that there are some other specific disqualifications that are not addressed on this website. If you have questions about the Department disqualifying you for any other reason, call employment attorney Adam R. Pechtel at (509) 586-3091 immediately.
Most workers do not have problems meeting the first two requirements, but trouble is often lurking in the last two requirements.
To qualify for benefits, a worker must be ready, able and willing to immediately accept any suitable work that is offered to her and must be actively seeking work.
To be "ready, able and willing to immediately accept any suitable work," a worker cannot deny an offer of employment if it is determined to be "suitable work." To be suitable, the work must be consistent with your prior work experience, education and training. If that kind of work is not available, the suitable work includes any work which the worker has the physical or mental ability to perform. One note of caution: a worker must be in the area where they are seeking work. When a worker is absent for vacation, for example, the worker does not meet the "ready, able and willing to immediately accept suitable work" requirement and should not receive benefits.
To be "actively seeking work," a worker must make a minimum of three job search contacts per week. A job search contact can be as simple as asking an employer about a job. The Department can also choose to require you to make more than three job search contacts per week. Workers receiving benefits must keep a record of their job search contacts including: date, employer's name, employer's address, employer's telephone number, how the contact was made, the name or position of the person contacted and the type of work applied for.
To qualify for benefits, a worker must be unemployed through no fault of her own. This means the worker cannot be fired for employment-related misconduct. It also means the worker cannot have quit their job. There are ten exceptions to the disqualification for quitting. These ten exceptions are collectively known as "good causes."
Misconduct that does not harm the employer does not disqualify a worker from benefits. A common mistake that is made by the Department is denying benefits to a worker who was fired for misconduct, but the misconduct was not work related. Some common examples of work-related misconduct are: