Unemployment Compensation

January 6, 2010

Question:I have just been terminated from my employment.

How do  I know whether I am eligible for unemployment based on the reason the employer is giving for discharging me?

Answer: Under Washington State law, you will eligible for unemployment compensation benefits if your employer fired you  because of business reasons, such as staff downsizing, and even if the employer says you had poor performance or were negligent in some way.

You will not be eligible if you committed “misconduct.”

Misconduct means an intentional or wilful violation of a clear rule of the employer of which you were aware, or which is obvious, such as the prohibition on theft or dishonesty which impacts your employer’s interests.

If you have merely made a mistake, or there is a misunderstanding, the employer may try to label  it as “misconduct” to deny you unemployment comp, and save themselves premium increases.

The burden is on the employer to show misconduct.  If the Employment Security Department denies your benefits on the basis of “misconduct,” contact an employment lawyer such as William Edelblute, about an appeal.  At the administrative appeal hearing, the burden will be on the employer to show that you wilfully violated a rule.   I win most appeals for my clients  based on “misconduct” issues because often the employer is exaggerating what is poor performance, negligence, or a misunderstanding into “misconduct.”

The law governing this issue is  found in RCW 50.04.294(1) and RCW 50.20.066.