For Employees

Willful Misconduct in Pennsylvania for Employees

If you are involved in a PA UC dispute, call willful misconduct attorney Keith J. Williams today at 855-703-1134 for an aggressive, affordable representation!

Have you lost your job due to Willful Misconduct?

Have you received a Notice of Determination denying your benefits due to Willful Misconduct?

Do you have an upcoming unemployment appeal hearing where Willful Misconduct is an issue?

Employment in Pennsylvania is “at-will” meaning an employer can legally terminate the services of an employee at any time, without notice or reason. While it is the employer’s right to terminate an employee, unless the termination is due to Willful Misconduct, the employee is eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits. If you have questions about your termination, contact experienced PA UC Willful Misconduct Attorney Keith J. Williams today!

What is Willful Misconduct?

Willful Misconduct is the term used to deny Unemployment Compensation Benefits to employees who have been terminated from work because they did something wrong. For you to be denied unemployment compensation, your former employer must prove your Willful Misconduct. Even then, you may still be eligible for unemployment compensation if you can show that your misconduct was justified or you had good cause for your actions. Experienced Willful Misconduct Attorney Keith J. Williams can help!

Common Willful Misconduct Situations

While most employees are legally entitled to Unemployment Compensation benefits, your Pennsylvania employer has the right to challenge these claims, specifically if you were terminated due to Willful Misconduct. Below are some of the most common Willful Misconduct situations:


SITUATION: Deliberate Violation of Employer Rules
 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

To show Willful Misconduct, your former employer must prove that the rule exists, is reasonable, and is fairly and consistently applied. Your former employer must also prove that you were aware or should have been aware of the rule and that you deliberately broke the rule.

 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and you are eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if you can show that the rule was unreasonable, your former employer has tolerated rule violations in the past, breaking the rule was an accident, or that you had good cause to break the rule due to:

  • Illness
  • Fear or injury
  • Physical inability to comply with the rule
  • Emergency
  • Ignorance of the rule
  • Vagueness of the rule

SITUATION: Absenteeism/Tardiness

Chronic absence or tardiness without a good reason constitutes willful disregard of the standards of behavior which an employer has the right to expect.

 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s Willful Misconduct if your employer can show that you didn’t have “good cause” for your absence/tardiness and that you’ve been adequately warned. Other factors include failing to report your absence/tardiness according to the employer’s policy, the reason for the last incident, and previous warnings for absenteeism or tardiness.

 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and you are eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if you can show that you had good cause for your absenteeism/tardiness, such as:

  • Illness
  • Transportation problems
  • Family emergencies
  • Lack of child care
  • Bad weather/fear of injury
  • Religious observances
  • Civic duty

SITUATION: Failing to Meet Normal Standards of Behavior

You can be denied unemployment compensation benefits based on Willful Misconduct if you are terminated due to “willful disregard of the standards of behavior which an employer has the right to expect” even if they are not expressly listed in your company’s rules.

 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s Willful Misconduct if you are terminated due to:

  • Sleeping on the job
  • Stealing
  • Fighting (unless self-defense)
  • Being intoxicated
  • Lying or falsifying information
  • Using unprovoked abusive or offensive language
  • Intentionally breaching confidentiality
  • Competing with your employer or aiding a competitor
  • Engaging in extremely negligent acts
 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and you are eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if you can show:

  • Standards are not common to all employees
  • Employee has good cause for violation of any rule
  • Conduct merely appears to be contrary to the employer’s interest
  • Just a suspicion of theft by the employee
  • Employee was merely named as a co-conspirator
  • The falsification does not directly effect the employee’s work
  • Failed to disclose you were looking for new employment
  • Employee can show self-defense

 


SITUATION: Attitude Toward Employer or Disruptive Influence

When an employee is terminated due to the employee’s attitude toward the employer or due to being a disruptive influence, to show Willful Misconduct your employer must prove the specific conduct was adverse to the their interests.

 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

When an employee is terminated due to his/her attitude toward an employer or due to being a disruptive influence, to show Willful Misconduct the former employer must prove the specific conduct was adverse to the employer’s interests. It’s Willful Misconduct if you are terminated due to:

  • Harassing phone calls to supervisor
  • Aiding a competitor
  • Disparaging an employer
 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and the former employee is eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if the employee can show:

  • Statements were merely curt remarks
  • Employee has merely a “poor” attitude
  • Legitimate criticism of the employer

SITUATION: Damage to Equipment or Property

When negligence results in damage to equipment or property, damage caused by the employee to the equipment or property is not usually Willful Misconduct.

 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

If you’ve been terminated due to equipment or property damage, to show Willful Misconduct your former employer must prove the damage was caused by your willful carelessness, negligence and intentional disregard of your employer’s interests as well as your duties and obligations. The employer must also show that the you would not have damaged the equipment had you used reasonable care of which you were capable.

 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and the former employee is eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if the employee can show…

  • Damage was unintentional or inadvertent
  • Damage was caused in order to protect the employee or other employees from injury

SITUATION: Unsatisfactory Work Performance

Doing a poor job makes an employee ineligible for unemployment compensation, but only if the employee was not performing up to standards.

 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

If you’ve been terminated due to unsatisfactory work performance, to show Willful Misconduct, your former employer must prove that the you were capable of doing the work but intentionally disregarded the employer’s interests and did not perform up to standards. In addition, to prove Willful Misconduct, your former employer must show documentation of warnings regarding your work performance.

 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and you are eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if you can show that you’ve been working to the best of your ability.


SITUATION: Drug and Alcohol Testing

If you’ve been terminated due to failing or refusing to take a drug and/or alcohol test at your employer’s request, you can be denied benefits due to Willful Misconduct.

 WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law provides for the denial of benefits for failure to submit to and/or pass a drug or alcohol test, provided the test is lawful and not in disagreement with an existing labor agreement.

 NOT WILLFUL MISCONDUCT:

It’s NOT Willful Misconduct and you are eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits if you can show that the drug testing was unlawful, prohibited by your labor agreement, or the results were inaccurate.

Was Your Willful Misconduct Justified?

Many people believe that unemployment benefits are only available to those who have been laid off. However, Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Benefits may be available to you even if you were fired or you quit if you can show that your misconduct was justified or you had good cause for your actions. Experienced unemployment compensation and Willful Misconduct Attorney Keith J. Williams can help.

The PA UC Appeals Process

If you’ve already been denied Unemployment Compensation, don’t assume that the denial is final. Pennsylvania UC law provides for an appeals process. You only have 15 days from the mailing date of your denial letter to file your appeal, so you must act quickly. Experienced unemployment compensation and Willful Misconduct Attorney Keith J. Williams will to listen to your concerns and evaluate your claim to determine if you have a right to benefits and swiftly pursue an appeal of your valid claim.

If you’ve been terminated for Willful Misconduct, contact experienced PA UC Willful Misconduct Attorney Keith J. Williams at 855-703-1134 and schedule your FREE initial consultation today!

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