First, off this post is limited to Florida law. While I generally try to provide legal information that is applicable in many states, I have no knowledge of unemployment laws in other states other than Florida. So if you have questions relating to unemployment benefits in another state, you should check with the applicable agency for your state or speak with an employment lawyer.
In Florida, in many circumstances where an employee gets fired, they are not sure whether to try to collect unemployment benefits. The answer is, YES, you should always make your claim for unemployment benefits. Go the the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation site and you can apply online. You will be required to fill out basic information and will be advised of the decision on your unemployment some time later. You need to make sure, while you are claiming unemployment, that you are actively looking for alternative employment and keeping records of your search.
Even if you were fired, you are entitled to claim unemployment benefits under Florida law. The only time where you are not entitled to recover them is if you were fired for misconduct. In many instances the employer may try to fight your recovery of unemployment benefits by claiming that you were fired for “misconduct.” However, even if the State agrees with the employer, you should not just lay down and accept the decision. “Misconduct” under Florida law, to not be able to recover unemployment benefits is a very difficult burden to prove. You have to have been fired for really bad stuff to not be able to get your unemployment benefits. This means that just because you get fired for not doing a good job or not following an employer’s rules you still are probably entitled to recover benefits. In most cases, even if the employer has fired you for a justified reason, it does not mean they are able to deny you your unemployment benefits. Even if your employer denies your benefits, there are many levels of appeal you can take and can have a hearing to address these issues. You probably also want to speak to an attorney when/if your benefits are refused since there are deadlines you need to meet. Many attorneys, such as my office, take these matters on a flat fee basis.
The other question that is typically asked to me is whether if I quit my job I am entitled to receive unemployment benefits. The answer to that question is is it depends on whether you quit or not for “good cause.” Generally, under Florida law if an employee quits, they are not entitled to recover benefits. However, if the employee was forced to quit or the work conditions were intolerable, than the employee may still be able to recover benefits. Once again, if you apply for benefits are are refused you probably want to speak to an attorney who can research the issues applicable to your situation and give you advice and how to deal with it. There are many different levels of appeal that can be pursued with the State of Florida to preserve your benefits.