Can I Collect Unemployment If I Was Fired for Misconduct?

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In general, if you are fired from misconduct, you will have a difficult time receiving unemployment benefits and may not be able to qualify. Don't let that stop you from filing, however, since the unemployment personnel, a neutral third party, will perform a full investigation of your claim before accepting or denying you.

Significance

  • In general, if you are fired for misconduct, you will not be able to receive unemployment. When you file a claim, unemployment personnel will investigate your claim by reviewing your paperwork and talking with your former employer. What your employer tells them may determine whether you receive unemployment. If you're worried about a potential misconduct problem and don't believe you committed misconduct, there are steps you can take to plead your case.

Misconduct

  • Not all terminations are a result of misconduct. If you purposely break an employer's rule, that counts as misconduct. If you weren't aware of the rule and broke it unconsciously, that's not misconduct. If you break a workplace rule, receive warnings about it, do not change your behavior and subsequently lose your job, that counts as misconduct. If you were fired for poor performance, poor relationships with coworkers or behavior off-duty that does not harm your employer's interests, you can collect unemployment.

Tips

  • If you're afraid being fired for misconduct will affect your claim, working with your employer can help mitigate the situation. Illinois Legal Aid suggests writing a letter to your boss explaining why your firing was unfair. If you think your real cause of termination was something other than the stated reason, state it in the letter. This creates a paper trail that makes it difficult to prove misconduct.

Exceptions

  • Not all states outright refuse unemployment to those fired for misconduct. The state of Wisconsin forbids those fired for misconduct from receiving unemployment for seven weeks and also mandates you earn 14 times the minimum base wage at a different employer before you can collect benefits. Check with your state's Department of Workforce Development for rules affecting unemployment claims before you file.

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