Can You Be Denied Unemployment by an Employer If You Are Fired?

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You typically are not eligible to collect unemployment benefits if you were fired due to your own misconduct. For example, if you failed a drug test or came to work intoxicated. In other situations where your employer had a reason to fire you due to misconduct but the misconduct seemed minor, you may still qualify for unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Funding

  • Employers in each state must pay an unemployment insurance tax to their state's unemployment tax agency. State unemployment taxes can only pay unemployment benefits for residents of that state. Employers must also pay a federal unemployment tax to the IRS. The IRS uses the money collected from this tax to help fund state unemployment benefits programs. State and federal tax agencies do not charge an unemployment tax to individual employees.

Gross Misconduct and Negligence

  • Losing your job due to your own negligence or gross misconduct typically disqualifies you for unemployment benefits. Gross misconduct and negligence are both broad terms by way of definition. As it relates to unemployment benefits, think of it as an action or behavior you knowingly partake in, even though you are aware of the negative consequences. This type of conduct includes stealing from your employer, falsifying your time card, creating a hostile work environment, committing crimes while working, not adequately performing your job duties and insubordination.

Possible Misconduct Exceptions

  • If your misconduct gave your employer cause to fire you, but the incident itself was not a case of severe misconduct, then you may still qualify for unemployment benefits. For example, on your way to work and there was an accident on the expressway. Police officers detoured traffic around the accident, causing you to be late for work. Your employer has a zero-tolerance policy for tardiness, so they fire you. You did not knowingly break the zero-tolerance policy by purposely coming to work late nor were you late to any fault of your own. You may still qualify for unemployment benefits and should speak with a representative at the unemployment insurance agency in your state.

Quitting or Resigning

  • If you quit your job because you think you are about to be fired or simply because you don't like your job anymore, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, if there is a legitimate reason for this situation, for example, if you were a victim of harassment or discrimination or if your work environment is unsafe, you may still be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.

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