Unemployment Benefits Harder to Get Under New Florida Law

A legal technicality is what has tripped up Francisco Arzu of Broward

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A legal technicality is what has tripped up Francisco Arzu of Broward. (Published Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012)

    Many Floridians lost their jobs during the Great Recession and the sputtering recovering that has followed.

    But now the new Florida unemployment law is making it harder for fired workers to collect unemployment benefits.

    The law already cuts the amount of time that you can receive benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. But a legal technicality is what has tripped up Francisco Arzu, a Broward resident who was fired from his job as a truck driver.

    “I’ve been working 16 years down there. I never expected they were going to treat me that way,” he told NBC Miami.

    His request for benefits was denied under the new law.

    “The difference in the rule is that before you were only denied your unemployment benefits if you had violated rules for which you had been repeatedly warned,” said his attorney, Steve McCullough. “Now you violate the rule once, without warning, and you can be denied your unemployment benefits.”

    Arzu’s delivery truck his a parked motorcycle near a loading dock one night, according to a police report. Arzu said his office was closed so he reported the accident the next morning – but he was terminated for technically not reporting it immediately.

    His former employer declined to comment.

    “This is in effect is going to give employers a better opportunity to defend unemployment claims,” labor law expert Rudy Gomez said.

    Despite the change favoring bosses, workers do have some protections, Gomez said.

    “Employees must know the rule. The rule must be job-related,” he said. “And the rule must be consistently enforced amongst all the employees.”

    McCullough predicts the “dramatic change” will impact many people seeking benefits.

    Arzu said he could definitely use them.

    “I’m trying to find me a job but it’s not easy right now,” he said. “It’s really, really hard.”