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make one shot count

Kit Carson once dawdled away the better part of an afternoon up a tree in the Sierra Nevada. I remember reading about it, years ago, in a biography. He got up the tree with some alacrity because a grizzly bear was after him. The grizzly was after him because Kit's first shot bounced off the bear's skull. Grizzlies have very thick skulls. But now, the bear became agitated. He began moving fast. This made Kit's second shot plunk in a fatty place. I guess shot bears get irritated. You can't blame them. They climb trees, too, is what Kit found out. And so, the big mountain man with the little name spent the afternoon Bowie knife in hand, whittling away at Papa Bear's nose.

Bear with me, because this illustrates a point I am about to make. It is this: When hunting grizzly, it is a wise policy to shoot your quarry dead with the first shot. That is nearly always better than wounding him with two. You may have other plans for the afternoon.

Likewise, when you go to fight an unemployment claim of questionable merit, don't shoot off a long barrage of every reason you can think of why Louie the Loafer is a knucklehead. Just pick your one best shot, take a deep breath, get up close, don't be afraid, and plant it right between the eyes. You can only hang a man once, you know. You don't need the kitchen sink to do it.

And yet, in our line of work we see time after time where an employer will scour the file for every instance of wrongdoing or complaint, as though he could bury an unjustified unemployment claim under a mountain of good reasons. This approach nearly always fails. Here's why:

Your local Unemployment claims office is not in the business of looking for a qualifying reason why someone should collect unemployment. This is a strange fact, but there you have it. If you or I were to set up an Unemployment system, we would hire some civil servants, and we would tell them: "Look for someone who is laid off. That's what the system was intended to pay." But we didn't. And they don't. That is not their job.

Now, when an employer goes to fight a case, he usually has any number of very good, more or less documented reasons why Louie the Loafer is a knucklehead. He'll show you a fistful of them. Fact is, the claims office is not in the business of looking for a disqualifying reason why someone should not collect unemployment. Not their job. Yours.

Well, if they are not looking for why someone should collect, and they are not looking for why they should not collect, then what are they looking for?

Their mandate comes from the feds. Basically, it says that, if, among all the several reasons for dismissal, there can be found one factor, which does not disqualify the claimant (what's called a non-disqualifying factor), then that factor is to be regarded as the real cause of dismissal, (get this:) all other factors are to be ignored, and the claim is to be paid. Non-disqualifying factors. In plain English, they are looking for loopholes. That's what they are looking for.

Where are they more apt to find a loophole? In a long laundry list of complaint? Or in one single, well-established, thoroughly documented, compelling reason to dismiss?

1) The reason you pick should be directly related to the final incident, by which I mean the straw that broke the camel's back on the day you finally had had enough must be your good reason.

2) You should be able to show how the company was harmed by the claimant's actions.

3) You should be able to show that the claimant knew he was doing wrong.

4) You should be able to show that what the claimant did was under his control.

Finally, remember that you are dealing with a bureaucracy. The first rule of government is that form supersedes function. By that I mean that it's not so important what the facts of the case are as how you state them. Truth is weightless. Paper is heavy. Don't say "He can't get his lazy butt out of bed." Instead show on paper a pattern of consistent inexcused tardiness. Likewise, don't say "Poor performance." Instead show on paper how he failed to follow supervisory instructions.

If you find yourself in bear country, call a professional who knows the language to use. You can't specialize in everything, these days. But you can always get one case handled free, on a try it out and see if you like it basis, right here at at www.uchelp.com

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