I am being denied unemployment benefits because I had a baby

I am being denied unemployment benefits by the State of Kansas because I had a baby. The moral of this story is to fight like hell, because bureaucrats may see you as weak, but they are so wrong. If you’re not married to an attorney (convenient!), get free help from the legal clinic at your nearest law school, or see if your EAP will provide a couple of free consultations. Even with a free, full-time attorney at my disposal I’ve gone through three appeals & we are now suing the state. I’m mad as hell, and I’m going to get what is mine.

My job ended while I was still on maternity leave. (I had a wonderful employer, and the end of my temporary, funding-contingent job truly had nothing to do with pregnancy or parental status.) By any reading of the applicable laws, I am explicitly entitled to unemployment benefits. Not just by default- my exact termination scenario is explicitly protected under KS ยง44-705 and 706.

The first state employee I dealt with tricked me into getting a doctor’s note saying I was fit to work. Because I spoke to this person without my attorney (husband) present, I did not realize this was not standard procedure. (The state employee explicitly said that I “had to” get a doctor’s note within the next 48 hours even though I had never been medically unfit to work. My attorney has since disproven this in appeal.) I was denied my claim. In my first appeal, I was then re-denied because my doctor’s note was dated two days after my interview and not before my claim started. The referee piled on, adding that I did not have child care in place. My case documents explicitly demonstrated that I did, so in my next appeal my attorney used two anti-discrimination laws as precedent to strike the ruling.

I was approved! All I had to do was sign two affidavits that I was medically fit, and that I had childcare. By this time I had a new job. Upon submitting my affidavits, the referee then reversed the ruling, reverting to the old argument – that I was unfit, and had not “hired” childcare during my unemployment. Suddenly the word was “hired” rather than “secured” which… legally matters, evidently. I was not paying for full time daycare while unemployed, therefore I was unable to work according to this bureaucrat. We appealed again, and were again denied because I did not appear at the hearing. Technically my fault – I was fooled by some red tape language. But legally, my appeal documents should’ve acted in my stead, and they were not entered into account. Therefore we moved to the next level, suing the state.

I’m hoping it goes well. My attorney/husband knows the judge, and he has a reputation of being a big fan of the people & a big critic of governmental jackassery. By this point, I know I’ve cost the state more money than they would save if they didn’t have to pay my few weeks of benefits. (Take that, jerks!)

I have SO many resources – my own education, my husband’s, and a sympathetic employer – on my side. And it has still taken this much effort, and it’s still not over. It kills me to know that there are moms out there who have less to throw back at the system that is so hellbent on cheating us out of what we earned. Don’t let the bastards get you down, mommies.

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