Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

Nevada Legal Services may be able to assist you if you have been denied benefits or your employer has appealed the determination granting benefits. We may represent claimants in administrative hearing before the Appeals Referee and on appeal to state court.

If you lose your job or are forced quit, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Generally, you are eligible for unemployment benfits if you are laid off because your employer does not have enough work for you, or if you are not "at fault" for losing your job in the legal sense. (Even if you are "at fault" for losing your job in some sense, you may be eligible to receive benefits.) Do not apply for unemployment benefits if you have applied for workers compensation.

There are many reasons the Employment Security Division of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (ESD) might have denied your claim for benefits.


Pursuant to NRS 612.385, a person is ineligible for benefits if he or she was discharged from his or her last or next to last employment for misconduct connected with his work.

Misconduct is not defined in the statute, but has been defined as: “a deliberate violation or disregard on the part of the employee of standards of behavior which his employer has the right to expect.  Carelessness or negligence on the part of the employee to such a degree as to show a substantial disregard of the employer's interest or the employee's duties or obligations to his employer are misconduct” (See Barnum v. Williams, 84 Nev. 37, 436 P.2d 219 (1968)).

Additionally, ordinary negligence in isolated instances, or good faith errors in judgment or discretion” are not misconduct.  Moreover, Nevada courts have construed misconduct to include an element of wrongfulness. 

The employer has the burden of proving misconduct.  After an initial showing, however, the burden shifts to the employee to show that they did not engage in misconduct or any wrongful behavior.

Quitting without good cause

You cannot voluntarily leave employment and receive unemployment benefits unless you had “good cause” to quit. 

Nevada has not specifically defined “good cause”.  The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation provides that good cause for leaving work can be established if a reasonable person would find  a compelling reason to quit and there are no other reasonable alternatives but to quit.  Generally, you will only to have “good cause” to have quit your job if you exhaust all reasonable alternatives prior to quitting, such as consulting with Human Resources, or a supervisor.  If you left your job to seek work, but had not yet secured a firm promise of work, you will not be found to have had “good cause” to quit.


If you make a false statement or representation, knowing it is false, or knowingly fail to disclose a material fact in order to obtain unemployment benefits, you can be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

Overpayments caused by misrepresentation require repayment and result in a period of disqualification of up to 52 weeks.

Cover Period

You are eligible for benefits if you have been employed in “covered” employment for the required time period.  Most employers are "covered" employers, but some employment is exempt from coverage, such as work performed for a church, self-employment and work performed for private employers while in the custody of a state correctional institution.

In Nevada, you must have earned at least $400 in one quarter of the base period, and

  • have total base period earnings of not less than 1-1/2 times the earnings in the highest quarter, OR
  • must have wages in at least 3 of the 4 base period quarters used to calculate eligibility.

Base period is usually the first 4 of the last 5 calendar quarters completed immediately preceding the first day of the benefit year.

Able and Available to Work

You must be actively engaged in efforts to seek and secure employment in your customary occupation to be eligible to receive benefits. 

You also must not have personal circumstances which prevent you from applying for, and accepting a job when offered.  Some examples of circumstances that may prevent a person from being available for work include, but are not limited to:

  • Inadequate child care;
  • Lack of adequate transportation;
  • Lack of tools required to perform the job;
  • Unwillingness or inability to work the days and hours customarily required by the type of work; and,
  • A personal decision to attend school not designated as approved training.

You also must be able to turn in work search records when asked. Generally you want to at least apply for 2-3 jobs a week to maintain eligibility for that week. You must use “good faith” in actively seeking work.

If you are in good standing with a union and reporting for job call as directed, you are considered available for work.

You must accept an offer of suitable employment and must go to any referrals for suitable work.  You can be denied for refusing suitable work. Suitable work is work which you customarily perform and pays the prevailing wage for that type of work in the area that the work is being performed. 

The Employment Security Division Job Service refers individuals who are receiving benefits to work when suitable openings are available.  If you refuse to apply for a job as directed by the Job Service you may be denied further unemployment benefits.

Last Review and Update: Apr 24, 2013