Comprehensive employee handbook is your best tool to beat unemployment claims

There’s a way to avoid being liable for unemployment compensation benefits when you terminate an employee for misconduct: Convincingly show that the employee knew all about the rules he violated but still didn’t follow them.

To do that, you need a thorough employee handbook that outlines your policies. Document when the employee received the handbook, as well as any specific training on the handbook policies.

Recent case: Ethan worked at a GameStop retail store as an assistant manager. When hired, he signed a receipt for the employee handbook, which included a policy prohibiting employees from ringing up their own purchases. According to the handbook, it was store policy to have a

manager process all transactions for employees. The handbook also prohibited cash refunds for new merchandise that had been opened and allowed only exchanges if the opened merchandise was defective. Ethan received regular training on the return policies.

Ethan was suspended and ultimately fired when a manager noticed that a product Ethan had returned had been opened and that he had received a cash refund.

He applied for unemployment compensation, arguing that he didn’t know about the policy. That didn’t work given Ethan’s signature on the handbook receipt and records showing that return policies had been covered in required training. He didn’t get the benefits. (Lahn v. GameStop, Minnesota Court of Appeals, 2017)