Q. We have terminated a poorly performing employee and she has applied for unemployment benefits. Since she was terminated, is she entitled to benefits?
A. Possibly. In North Carolina, as in other states, the law liberally allows unemployment benefits. Just because the employee was terminated does not mean she is not entitled to benefits. In order for benefits to be denied, the employee must be terminated for gross misconduct or substantial fault on her part.
Gross misconduct is defined as conduct evidencing willful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interest as is found in deliberate violation or disregard of standards of behavior the employer has the right to expect of its employees.
Substantial fault is defined as those acts or omissions of employees over which they exercised reasonable control and which violate reasonable requirements of the job. Substantial fault does not include (1) minor infractions of rules unless such infractions are repeated after a warning was received by the employee, (2) inadvertent mistakes made by the employee, or (3) failure to perform work because of insufficient skill, ability or equipment.
If you contest the employee’s application for benefits, you will have to show that you terminated her for gross misconduct or substantial fault.
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