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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About RI Unemployment Cases

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for My Rhode Island Unemployment Hearing?

A: If you are denied benefits or your employer appeals your receipt of benefits, it is extremely important to have an attorney represent your interests. If not, you will, most likely, be the least knowledgeable person in the room on the subject of your legal rights and how to pursue them. The Hearing Officer is well trained in the law, but s/he is not on your side. Mr. Brier can present your case in the best possible light and effectively cross-examine the employer and its witnesses. He is comfortable questioning witnesses and aggressively challenging the employer’s version of events.

When you retain Mr. Brier, he will explain the process of the hearing and prepare you for what you need to say at your hearing. He will also help you gather any documents or witnesses that are needed for your case. This removes much of the stress of the hearing, allowing you to concentrate on being yourself and making your best case, all with the guidance of questioning by an attorney with your interests firmly in mind.

Your unemployment compensation benefits are hugely important to you and to your family, now and potentially for many months to come, especially in this uncertain economy. You owe it to yourself to have Mr. Brier assist you in preparing and presenting the best possible case to secure your rights.


Q: What do I do if I cannot reach the Call Center?

It is often difficult, if not impossible, to reach the Call Center. You will receive a busy signal or if you do get through, you will eventually be hung-up on. My advice is to send them an email at and provide your name, social security number, phone number and the reason for your call, and they should call you back in 1-3 days.


Q: Why call Matthew J. Brier?
A: Most people wrongly assume that the process to collect benefits is simple and they do not need a lawyer. Nothing can be further from the truth!  As soon as you are let go from your job, you should call Matthew J. Brier so he can help guide you through the often complicated and intimidating process. 

Q: What is the purpose of UI benefits?
A: UI benefits are provided to eligible workers who are unemployed for no fault of their own. Benefits are intended to provide temporary financial assistance until they secure full-time work. Because of the poor economy, it is possible to collect UI for 99 weeks.


Q: How do I file for benefits?
A: As soon as you are separated from your job, do not wait, file your claim immediately.

To file a claim in Rhode Island, click here.

Q: What is the process after I file a claim?
A: If you are fired or quit your job, approximately 2-4 weeks after you file your initial claim, unemployment will set up a telephone interview to determine the circumstances of why you are no longer working. It is critical to know what you should tell unemployment, so call Matthew J. Brier right now so he can help you.

After you give your phone interview, unemployment will contact your employer to get their side of the story. Approximately 2-4 weeks after your telephone interview, you will receive an initial decision from unemployment. Generally, if you say one thing happened and your employer says another, unemployment will rule in favor of the employer and deny your benefits. Do not give up; I get the initial decisions overturned every day!


Q: How do I file an appeal of an initial decision?
A: If you receive a denial letter, call me immediately so that I can file your appeal. You generally only have 15 days from the mailing date on the decision to file your appeal and request an administrative hearing.

While your appeal is pending, make sure to continue to certify your claim via phone or online EVERY week.


Q: What happens at my hearing?
A: This is your opportunity to provide evidence as to why you are entitled to benefits. It is critical to have an attorney like Matthew J. Brier help prepare you for your hearing. The first administrative hearing after your telephone interview is the most important time to have an attorney represent you and fight for your rights to collect benefits.

At the hearing, there will be a hearing officer who will hear your case. He will swear you under oath and listen to the testimony. Matthew J. Brier will prepare you for your hearing, review all paperwork, and, at the hearing, will be able to effectively ask your employer questions.

When your hearing is over, you will receive within 1 to 2 weeks a decision letter that will tell you whether or not you are entitled to benefits.


Q: What happens if I lose after my first hearing?
A: If you lose, Matthew J. Brier will appeal your decision to the next level at no cost to you. He will fight for your rights until you are able to obtain benefits.


Q: How much money can I collect?
A: Benefits are based on a percentage of your earnings.  You can generally collect for a maximum of 26 weeks on your regular unemployment claim, plus additional weeks for extended unemployment when the economy is poor as it is today.  Presently, people can collect for up to 99 weeks. Because there is so much money involved, you need to call Matthew J. Brier TODAY to help obtain your benefits.


Q: What other requirements are necessary to collect benefits?
A: You must be able and available for full-time work and must be conducting an active, suitable job search. You cannot collect benefits if you are not looking for work or not looking for full-time work.  It is generally a good idea to keep track of all your efforts to look for work.


Q: What happens if I am laid off for lack of work?
A: You will generally be entitled to benefits immediately, as long as your employer verifies that you have indeed been laid off.


Q: What is “fired for misconduct?”
A: Your employer has the burden to establish that you did something wrong with respect to your last incident that caused your separation. Common examples of misconducts that might cause you to be denied benefits are insubordination, no call-no show, excessive tardiness or loss of a license where the license is a necessary part of your job. If you are denied benefits, call Matthew J. Brier immediately and he can help with your appeal.


Q: What is quitting with “good cause”?
A: To collect benefits, you must establish that you had a compelling, urgent reason to leave your job. A common example is when your job is no longer available after an extended medical leave.

Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Discrimination


Q: Who is protected from employment discrimination on the basis of a disability?
A: The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) prohibits employment discrimination against “qualified” individuals with a disability. This law protects both applicants for employment as well as current employees. “Qualified” individuals include those who have a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activity, has a record of this disability, or is regarded as having this disability. Major life activities include: seeing, speaking, hearing, walking, breathing, learning, self-care, and manual tasks.


Q: When is an employer required by law to accommodate a disabled employee?
A: If a disabled employee needs accommodation, he should ask for that accommodation. That’s because an employer is only required to make accommodations if he or she is made known of the issue.


Q: Am I protected from age discrimination if I’m younger than 40?
A: Unfortunately no. The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) protects employees and job applicants who are 40 years of age or older.