Contesting unemployment? Prove misconduct was willful

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in Firing,Human Resources

Employees fired for willful misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. If you terminate someone for breaking a workplace rule, be prepared to prove that the employee knew about the rule and understood it.

Recent case: Brian Boyer worked as a supervisor for High Steel Struc­tures and used a company-issued cellphone. The company had an electronic-communication policy that banned using company equipment like cellphones to send anything that could be considered potentially offensive. Boyer received a copy of the policy when it first came out.

When he was fired for sending suggestive text messages, he filed for unemployment, claiming he didn’t know that could cost him his job. The court said otherwise, noting the company’s proof that Boyer knew about the policy. (Boyer v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 638 C.D. 2011, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, 2011)

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