When a former employee applies for unemployment benefits, a notice is sent to the former employer. If the employer wants the state to deny the employee these benefits, all the employer needs to do is check a box that indicates “misconduct” or “employee quit” and sign a form. Many employers (close to 90%) decide to try to deny former employees unemployment benefits because there is a financial cost to the employer. However, the ultimate decision-maker of who gets benefits is the state department that issues unemployment benefits.
For a state department, the word “misconduct” has a certain legal meaning. While the employer may look at the word as a description of an employee who goofed off, talked back, or made errors, the word actually means something very different. Under the rules for unemployment, misconduct means that the employer had a rule or policy, the rule or policy was something that was a serious issue affecting the bottom line or safety of other employees, the employee violated that rule or policy, the employee was warned that if he or she violated that rule or policy again he or she would be terminated, and the employee willfully and deliberately violated the rule or policy.
This legal definition of misconduct can be beneficial to the employee’s attorney in obtaining unemployment benefits. Employers rarely understand what misconduct really means in this context.