Unemployment denied—even if misconduct wasn’t intentional

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Employees sometimes don’t do what they are told to do because they don’t think the task is possible or is too hard. If you fire such an employee for breaking a company rule—“Do what your boss tells you to do!”—you might be able to defeat the employee’s unemployment compensation claim.

Recent case: Janitor Joe Vasquez’s supervisor told him to remove brown spots from a wall. Vasquez claimed he tried, but the spots remained. Vasquez, who had a history of not completing assigned tasks, was fired the next day for misconduct—failing to follow the supervisor’s directions.

The Texas Workforce Commission denied Vasquez unemployment benefits and he appealed, arguing that he hadn’t intentionally broken the company’s rule.

The court said intent wasn’t required, just evidence that he had broken a rule. That’s misconduct. (Vasquez v. Texas Workforce Commission, No. 04-08-00508, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2009)

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