To an employer, the words “You can’t fire me! I quit!” are music to the ears. Employees who quit are ineligible for unemployment. Those who are fired, on the other hand, may receive what in Florida we quaintly call reemployment benefits, potentially impacting the employer’s reemployment tax rate.
But of course, things are never so simple. Thus employees who quit can still be eligible for unemployment if they quit for good cause. Claims of good cause can be adversarial, for instance when employees claim they were forced to quit. Sometimes they are not, such as when an employee must stop working due to illness or disability.
Conversely, employees who are fired will not receive unemployment benefits if they are fired due to their own misconduct. And there are endless forms of misconduct. A healthcare employee violating HIPAA will not only be fired, they will be fired for misconduct. Working overtime without authorization, which forces the employer to pay for the overtime even though it was not cleared, also falls in that category. Repeatedly accusing a fellow employee of stealing, lying, and using drugs, can cost the employee both their job and unemployment benefits as well.
Misconduct, generally speaking, is behavior that violates the employer’s standards and exhibits a conscious disregard for the employer’s best interest. With such a broad definition, many, but not all, forms of shenanigans can constitute misconduct. The wise employer will be well counseled when facing the decision whether to oppose a former employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.