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A woman left her part-time job before the pandemic. It’s the reason DWD is denying her unemployment benefits

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Morgan Giddings, 28, of Lone Rock reviews the DWD letter rejecting her application for unemployment benefits
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LONE ROCK (WKOW) -- When Morgan Giddings left her part-time job in early March, she looked forward to not having to make the 40-minute drive to Sauk City. Instead, that decision is the reason the Department of Workforce Development rejected her application for unemployment benefits after her full-time employer laid her off.

"I thought it was a simple solution for me because I worked a full-time job," Giddings said. "I didn't think anything of it until I got denied."

Giddings said she gave her two weeks' notice to the part-time employer during the first week of March. She then got laid off from her full-time job on March 30 and immediately applied for unemployment insurance.

Giddings said she was puzzled during the case review because the DWD processor asked only about the part-time job.

"They asked me questions only about this part-time job I worked, just asking why I quit and I said because of the drive," Giddings said.

Giddings did not hear back from DWD until July 2. When she received a letter, it noted she had left the part-time job for personal reasons and added her application was denied because she hadn't earned enough money after leaving the part-time job to qualify.

"I shouldn't be penalized for working a part-time job," Giddings said.

27 News asked the DWD to review Giddings' case and the agency agreed. Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the agency said Giddings failed to qualify for unemployment benefits.

"The determination made is correct and accurate based on the law," said DWD Communications Specialist Grace Kim. "The department must look at all employment separations individually that occurred during the 18 months prior to the time a claimant files."

Kim said the DWD had no choice but to reject Giddings' claim based on the law under Wisconsin State Statute 108.04(7). That portion of the law states, "If an employee terminates work with an employing unit, the employee is ineligible to receive benefits until the employee earns wages after the week in which the termination occurs equal to at least 6 times the employee's weekly benefit rate."

DWD calculations determined Giddings would have had to earn $2,220 during the less than two weeks between her last day at the part-time job and when the full-time employer laid her off.

Giddings has appealed the ruling and hopes either a DWD review can find an exception for her case or state lawmakers will notice and waive the requirement.

While bad timing may have cost her unemployment benefits, Giddings said fortunate timing has kept her from suffering as much as other people struggling to receive unemployment benefits.

"It's been pretty difficult," Giddings said. "Thankfully, in December, I moved back with my parents. I don't know how any other adult would be able to survive without any check or anything."

RELATED: 2013 law behind denial of unemployment benefits to Lone Rock woman

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A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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