Employers don’t want distracted employees, especially when their jobs require their undivided attention. That’s reason enough to tell workers to shut off their cellphones and other electronic devices.
Ignoring such orders and engaging in distractions like reading text messages is misconduct, which can justify denial of unemployment.
Recent case: Joey worked in a hospital. Employees were told they could not use their personal electronics, including cellphones, while on duty. Joey was fired after being observed checking text messages in a patient-care area.
She applied for unemployment compensation and was initially approved. The hospital appealed, arguing that checking text messages was willful misconduct.
The court agreed and denied her benefits. (Clark v. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, No. 25257, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 2012)
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- Be wary of disciplining employees soon after union activities
- Investigate before disciplining harassment victim
- Document disciplinary details to show why same violation resulted in different punishment
- Crude, foul-mouthed manager can easily spark a lawsuit