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Understand Ohio unemployment comp: Breaking a rule isn’t enough to deny benefits

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You may think that discharging an employee for breaking a company rule automatically means that former employee won’t receive unemployment compensation in Ohio. But that’s not always the case.

In fact, breaking a rule isn’t enough. Instead, the measure of whether you had just cause to fire the employee is whether an ordinary person would have done what the employee did under the same circumstances.

Recent case: Laura Alexander worked as a manager at a Lowe’s home improvement store. The company has strict rules about when to call the police, including getting permission first.

One evening, Alexander and a cashier observed a man push his way out of the store through an “in” door, knocking it off its tracks. The same man had been in the store earlier that day. Alexander approached him in the vestibule, where he told her he was despondent and looking for a friend. He then began loitering around the parking lot, looking into cars.

Because a car had recently been broken into, Alexander called the police on the nonemergency line and asked them to cruise through the parking lot.

When management learned Alexander violated the rule on calling the police, Lowe’s fired her.

She applied for unemployment compensation and got the benefits despite breaking the rule. The judge said an ordinary person would have called the police, too. (Alexander v. Lowe’s, No. 95027, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 2011)

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