Employees are entitled to unemployment compensation only if they lose their jobs because of things over which they have little or no control. On the other hand, employees get no benefits if they’re terminated for improper conduct as defined by the employer.
Recent case: Bennie Haynes worked as a snowplow operator on the Ohio Turnpike. While plowing snow, he crossed the median strip and hit a vehicle. He called for an ambulance.
But then, according to witnesses, Haynes began plowing again in what his employer came to believe was an attempt to cover up his fault in the accident. He wasn’t criminally charged with hit-and-run, but the Turnpike fired him for leaving the scene of an accident.
Haynes applied for unemployment compensation, but was turned down. On appeal, he argued that he wasn’t fired for just cause because he wasn’t criminally charged.
The court said criminal charges weren’t necessary. The employer was free to conclude it had two good reasons for discharging Haynes: leaving the scene of an accident he caused and then executing an apparent bid to cover up how the accident happened. (Haynes v. Ohio Turnpike Commission, No. 92981, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 8th Appellate Division, 2010)
Advice: Always consult your attorney before providing documents or testimony in an unemployment compensation case. You need to be wary, because unemployment comp cases are often preludes to more litigation. Your lawyer can best advise you on tactics—and help you decide whether contesting a claim for benefits is the best course of action.