Can You Get Unemployment If You Are Fired for Policy Violation?

A terminated employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
A terminated employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

The state unemployment department determines benefit eligibility on a variety of factors, including how much money you earned during your employment and why you are currently unemployed. In most cases, benefits are available to workers who become unemployed for reasons beyond their control such as a layoff, illness or job transfer of a spouse. Workers who quit or experience an involuntary termination typically do not qualify for unemployment benefits with some exceptions.


In most states, getting fired for violating a company policy will disqualify you for unemployment benefits because the violation constitutes misconduct. Misconduct is behavior that significantly injures the employer's interests. However, each state interprets the definition of misconduct differently. Depending on the circumstances of the policy violation and the resulting termination, the unemployment department may uncover that the policy violation did not constitute misconduct and award you benefits.

Eligibility Requirements

Unemployment benefits are only available to employees who are out of work through no fault of their own. It is up to the state to determine if the reason you become unemployed is your fault or not. When you apply for unemployment benefits, you must indicate the reason you left your previous employer. If you inform the unemployment department that you quit or were fired, they will perform an investigation to determine your eligibility for benefits.


Once you become unemployed and there is a chance you may be eligible for benefits, you should file a claim right away. The unemployment department will evaluate your claim and make a determination to award or deny benefits based on the information in your file. In employee termination cases, the department will contact you to hear your side of the story regarding the events that led to your termination. They will also contact your employer for their side. Depending on the findings, the department will award you benefits or deny your claim and inform you of the reasons why. If the department is unable to contact your employer for information about your job separation, they typically will make a determination in your favor based on the information they have.


Once the unemployment department makes a decision, both you and your employer have the right to appeal the decision if you do not agree. For instance, if you feel you are entitled to unemployment despite the department's decision to deny benefits, you may file an appeal and attend a hearing to discuss the claim further. On the other hand, if you are awarded benefits and your employer disagrees, the employer also has the right to file an appeal. In both cases, either the original decision will be upheld or overturned.

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