If you’re about to fire an employee for misconduct, think about consulting an attorney before you commit the reason to writing. Sometimes no reason is better than one that could trigger a discrimination lawsuit, even if it means having to pay unemployment compensation.
You can always wait and see If the employee applies for unemployment benefits because he or she says you didn’t give a valid reason, you can appeal. You and your attorney then will get a better feel for whether a potential lawsuit is coming.
Recent case: Secretary Colette Skowronek was fired after refusing to abide by her employer’s dress code or punch a time clock. She applied for unemployment compensation, claiming she was fired for no fault of her own.
As evidence, she claimed she was never told why she was discharged and therefore couldn’t be guilty of misconduct. (Skowronek v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 2150 CD, 2006; Commonwealth Court, 2007) Her employer appealed and was able to prove that Skowronek had been fired for insubordination.
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