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Written by Maria Maisto   

Q:  Can I consider the information on this site as legal advice?

A:  No, this initiative and this site are not intended and cannot be considered as legal advice.  Every state decides its own eligibility requirements, and the best source of information is at your state’s website, which is updated continually.

The official links are listed here by state under “Apply for Unemployment.” Elsewhere on this site, you may find such other guidelines as we have been able to identify online. If you have individual questions about applying, please contact your state’s Department of Labor.

If you belong to a union, it may also be in a position to advise you, and of course there are accountants and attorneys who will advise you for a fee. For the larger purposes of this Initiative, it would be most helpful if you contacted the local offices of your state and federal representatives, who are responsible for the laws that decide who is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Our representatives in government should understand that none of us on contingent appointments has a “reasonable assurance” of continued employment.

Q:  Could I be retaliated against for applying for UI?

A:  While everyone is entitled under federal law to see whether or not he or she meets the state’s eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance benefits, retaliation is a serious concern for many adjuncts. Each of us needs to take the measure of our former employers and consider the possibility that we might lose the opportunity for future work by applying for unemployment insurance benefits.

At the same time, it is important to note that an employer who challenges a claim for unemployment insurance benefits indicates in so doing that the employee will soon be rehired. It is important to file as soon as you may be eligible. In many cases claims are awarded retroactively to employees who file, are denied, and are then not rehired, when it becomes evident that the prospect of continued employment was not reliable after all.

Q: What is the advantage to my filing for UI in a group of applicants: that is, at the same time as and along with other faculty on contingent appointments at my institution or in my region?

A:  There is strength in numbers. We hope that many claims from the same institution or region will make it harder for employers to dispute any individual claim or to retaliate against any individual claimant. By acting together, we demonstrate the true extent of contingency and its actual costs. We also describe ourselves as a category of employee no different from any other category that is entitled to unemployment insurance benefits when its members are available for work and when the kind of work they do is currently unavailable to them.

If each of us will report the status of our claims through this website, NFM will analyze the data and post the results for each region. We are also planning to post the addresses of institutions where some of us who receive benefits are looking for work, so that more of us can inquire for work at the same institutions as long as we remain unemployed.

Q:  How can this initiative help to address the problem of the inequitable treatment of adjunct and contingent faculty?

A:  Filing for unemployment insurance benefits if you think you are eligible and reporting your experience back to NFM will help us to gather data on how the federal law is being interpreted and applied.  California and Washington State have already resolved this issue to the benefit of adjunct and contingent faculty. By comparing the information we collect from these two states with the success of this Initiative in other states, we can build a case for equal treatment under the law state by state and at the federal level.

Our basic claim is as it should be, that equity is the only path forward. We want to make it more expensive for colleges and universities to pay unemployment insurance claims than to give adjuncts the continuing contracts that we have long deserved.


Q:  I am an administrator (chair, dean, provost, vice-president, president).  How can I help?

A:  1. Inform contingent faculty that they can and should apply.  2. Resolve to stand up for them in the face of any retaliation against them. If you have the power to do so, ensure that your institution will not retaliate against them for exercising their right to apply for UI. 3. If their claim is challenged, offer to testify on their behalf, to affirm to the state agency that they do not in fact have reasonable assurance of continued employment.

Last Updated on Monday, 29 June 2015 20:13
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Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is not intended to serve as legal advice.  Any information on this website or otherwise promulgated by NFM's directors, members, advisors, or contributors should not be relied upon as legal advice and, despite our best efforts, cannot be warrantied as current or accurate.  Please seek legal counsel from the provider of your choice.


Read the January 10 2017 story in Inside Higher Ed

Read the January 9, 2017 story in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Read the July 15, 2015 story in Inside Higher Ed

Read the June 20, 2010 story in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription only)

Read the May 24, 2010 Press Release.

Read the May 24, 2010 story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


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