Change the Unemployment Labor Laws of Hawaii

Change the Unemployment Labor Laws of Hawaii

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Darci B. started this petition to Hawaii State House

According to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) in order to be eligible to collect unemployment benefits in Hawaii:

  • You must have earned at least a minimum amount in wages before you were unemployed.
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Hawaii law.
  • You must be able and available to work, and you must be actively seeking employment.

Nolo.com, a website compromised of some of the Internet's first legal sites, states that "the DLIR handles unemployment benefits and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis." It took my personal experience of this agonizing, nerve-wracking process to realize things need to change. I am sure that I am not the only person this has happened to and I wondered that if those people didn't have the same support system as I, they possibly ended up in dire situations or worse, homeless.

As for my situation, I was employed at a company for 7 years, 3 weeks and one day before I went into labor with my first child and immediately went on maternity leave. Being that I had a cesarean section I was allowed to collect TDI for 8 weeks, normal delivery is 6 weeks. It was on a Friday, the last day of my 8 weeks of my TDI that I received a call stating my position had been eliminated, so basically I had no job the following Monday. I filed for unemployment the following Monday and was deemed eligible and began collecting.

Although people told me to just collect my benefits for the entire 26 weeks and then look for a job I was adamant to contribute to my household and help provide for my new baby. I applied, I went on interviews and I was offered a job for a company in exactly two months from being initially laid off. I accepted the position and was excited to start. The day I started I already had a feeling that this was one of those, "what did I get myself into" situations. The owner of the company was on vacation (which I found out occurs often), the manager that hired me apparently isn't present either as she is a "virtual manager" located in another state, and the accountant was located on another island. So I learned on my first day that there is no guidance or support from upper management, as divulged by the other 4 employees that worked there. It might be an ideal situation for others but I was hired to be the administrative/accounting support and I can't support those who are not present, especially in the beginning. I figure I give it a week and see if things would look up. Let's just say it didn't and I decided that it would be a disservice to the company for me to continue. 

That decision right there disqualified me from further receiving any unemployment benefits. It didn't matter that I had worked 7 years prior, DLIR didn't care if I found the right job that I would stay at long term they just want you to get a job period and stop using benefits that you are entitled to and worked for. I did the right thing, I reactivated my unemployment claim and stated that I quit. By saying I quit my claim was now in the hands of an investigator. I filed weekly for a month and my status was still pending so I called and my claims investigator tells me he was going to get to me in chronological order, it didn't matter that I had bills that were due. I explained to him my reasons for having to quit and he had to confer with the employer. Next thing I know, I am disqualified for my benefits and the reason the investigator stated wasn't even the reason. All I can do now is file an appeal and that will take another two weeks. Keep in mind I had not received any benefits for 6 weeks and I only received benefits for 7 of the 26 weeks I was allotted. 

Through this frustration, I knew I can't be the only one. If I didn't have my husband, my newborn and I would have to seek shelter and other government benefits. It was that feeling of defeat and worthlessness that I knew things needed to change. I am not trying to abuse the system or exhaust my benefits. Each case should be analyzed on the facts and previous information. I am not chronically unemployed. I should be allowed to continue to collect my benefits for whatever weeks I have remaining of the 26 weeks or until I find another job. By denying me my unemployment benefits l would end up utilizing more costly government benefits such as EBT, Section 8, WIC and Quest. That just doesn't make any sense. 

The laws, the rules, they need to be changed and the employees/investigators need to be retrained on compassion and looking at all the information before coming to a conclusion that drastically impacts human lives. They say we are at an all-time low for unemployment claims and now I know why they are disqualifying everyone from receiving their benefits. They think they are saving the state money but they are costing us more money by denying people what they rightfully worked for, help when they need it most.

Please sign this petition to ask legislators to make the necessary adjustments to the current laws.

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