Many people receive their Notice of Determination and it states the reason for discharge as “willful misconduct.” Willful misconduct means your employer is accusing you of engaging in serious misconduct such as violating an employer’s policy, stealing, violence, or other major and substantial workplace infractions. Under the “willful misconduct” standard, an employee who is a below average performer and has made numerous costly mistakes at work would still be entitled to benefits, since his inability to perform the job does not fall under willful misconduct.
In order to win your unemployment appeal hearing after you were discharged for willful misconduct, you have to present a strong defense to prevent the employer from meeting its burden.
Willful misconduct has been held to comprehend (1) an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer’s interests, (2) a deliberate violation of the employer’s rules, (3) a disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has a right to expect of an employee, or ( 4) negligence indicating an intentional disregard of the employer’s interest or of the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer.
It is important to understand that at your unemployment compensation appeal hearing, your employer has the burden of proving that you engaged in willful misconduct. The employer must prove you willfully disregarded its interests or policies or willfully engaged in reckless behavior, such as stealing or violence. It is common for employers to categorize very small incidents as major infractions in order to deny you unemployment compensation benefits. A skilled unemployment lawyer can recognize if you did engage in misconduct and whether it was done so willfully so as to rise to the level of willful misconduct.
An employer must be prepared to prove that
- The employee intentionally engaged in conduct which was detrimental to employer’s interest;
- The conduct was material to the work;
- The conduct violated a standard which was uniformly and consistently applied by the employer;
- The conduct violated a standard which was reasonable.
By successfully rebutting the elements of willful misconduct an employee may prevail at a UC hearing.
Although you may have violated your employer’s policy or engaged in some misconduct, it doesn’t mean you are going to be denied your unemployment benefits. In order to win you unemployment appeal, you have to prevent the employer from meeting its burden. A skilled unemployment lawyer will present you with the strongest defense to ensure the employer does not meet their burden and you receive your unemployment benefits.