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Unemployment Benefits Refresher, Part II

Earlier this week, I reviewed the prerequisites a former employee must meet in order to qualify for unemployment benefits.  Now let’s turn to what will disqualify an individual from benefits from receiving benefits.  Once the base qualifications to obtain benefits have been met, benefits may still be denied if the person admits to or it can be shown that the person did one of the following:

(1)        Voluntarily quit;

(2)        Refused to accept suitable work without good cause or apply for available work when directed by the Office of Employment and Training;

(3)        Is unemployed due to a strike or bone fide labor dispute;

(4)        Knowingly makes false statements to obtainbenefits; or,

(5)        Was discharged for misconduct.

Often an employer will want to challenge benefits that have been awarded to a former employee that they believe were rightfully terminated due to misconduct. To be able to defeat a claim for unemployment benefits under this category, an employer will need to show that not only did the misconduct occur, but also that the employee was aware that his actions would constitute misconduct. Some examples of workplace misconduct include, but are not limited to:

(1)        Falsification of an employment application;

(2)        Knowing violation of a reasonable and uniformly enforced rule of an employer;

(3)        Unsatisfactory attendance;

(4)        Refusing to obey reasonable instruction;

(5)        Damaging employer property intentionally or through gross negligence;

(6)        Reporting to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The most basic way to keep unemployment compensation costs down is to have a good employee handbook in place which states clear employee expectations and which employees acknowledge receipt and understanding of in writing. If the employee then violates those policies it should be documented clearly in writing.  If the employee is subsequently fired for cause, he or she will be unable to claim ignorance as to what actions constitute misconduct and termination for cause can be proven.

If you are employer and would like to know more about challenging a claim for unemployment benefits, or need help in drafting a strong employee handbook, contact the labor and employment law attorneys at McBrayer today.

Luke Wingfield

Luke A. Wingfield is an associate with McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Mr. Wingfield concentrates his practice in employment law, insurance defense, litigation and administrative law. He is located in the firm’s Lexington office and can be reached at lwingfield@mmlk.com or at (859) 231-8780. 

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.

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