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One simple mistake can entitle workers to UI benefits

by on
in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

When you terminate an employee for refusing to accept a schedule change, that person typically isn't eligible for unemployment compensation. But if your organization makes one little mistake in such circumstances, it could be on the hook for benefits.

How? Under Florida's unemployment compensation law, employees terminated for "misconduct" won't be eligible for unemployment. Refusing to work your required schedule could be deemed misconduct.

But if your organization neglects to offer an employee the opportunity to refuse working the schedule (and simply assumes the person can't handle the schedule), then the employee would be entitled to UI benefits. Reason: It's not misconduct if the person didn't have a chance to say "No."

Recent case: When Theresa Franks, a legal assistant, began taking classes at a local school, her law firm allowed her to work a flexible schedule. Soon after her classes started, the firm decided that everyone had to work the same schedule.

Assuming Franks wouldn't or couldn't work a regular schedule, the law firm fired her. Franks was turned down for unemployment benefits because her employer had fired her for refusing to work a regular schedule.

The problem: No one ever asked Franks about working a regular schedule, so she wasn't guilty of misconduct. She challenged the UI ruling and received benefits. (Franks v. Unemployment Appeals Commission and Price Hamilton & Price Chartered, No. 2D06-114, Florida Court of Appeals, 2006)  

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