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Single ethnic slur constitutes misconduct

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employees who are fired for misconduct can’t collect unemployment compensation. Generally, any action that violates a known company policy qualifies as misconduct.

Recent case: Barton’s supervisor, who is from Liberia, told him to count out 40 boxes and assemble them. Barton instead brought a whole packet of boxes. When the supervisor questioned him, Barton said they worked in Minnesota, “not Africa.”

Barton was fired for making a derogatory remark based on his boss’s national origin.

He applied for unemployment, but was denied because he was guilty of misconduct. The employer proved Barton knew the anti-slur rules and admitted his comment reflected his view of Africans. The court said that single comment was enough to bar benefits. (Winter v. Manpower, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2017)

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