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How is Willful Misconduct Defined Under Unemployment Law?

willful misconduct as, "an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer's interests, the deliberate violation of rules, the disregard of standards of behavior which an employer can rightfully expect from an employee, or negligence which manifests culpability, wrongful intent, evil design, or intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interests or of the employee's duties and obligations."

Section 402(e), 43 P.S. § 802(e) states that an individual that is terminated due to willful misconduct is not eligible for unemployment compensation. The burden of proof for a willful misconduct case falls to the employer. An unemployment attorney can help you navigate the process.

If you have been fired for willful misconduct then you are not eligible for unemployment compensation. However, obtaining unemployment compensation may be possible if it can be proven your discharge was incorrectly classified as willful misconduct. The assistance of an experienced unemployment law firm would be paramount in the venture.

Common examples of Willful Misconduct:

Absenteeism and/or Tardiness

There have been cases where the employer has been penalized f

or not having warned the employee prior to termination, as well as,

cases where one absence was proof enough of willful misconduct.

There are many "good causes" for missing work that could change the tides in a willful misconduct case.

Examples of good causes are:

- Being sick

- Having a sick child

- Missing work in accordance with employer's policy

There are many factors that can affect the eligibility determination. While the burden of proof falls the the employer to prove willful misconduct an unemployment lawyer could make a world of difference in a case in proving that your conduct would not classify as willful misconduct.

Rule Violation

Purposefully violating a rule of an employer, that was not for a good cause.

The employer must prove, not only, that there is a rule, but also, that the employee had knowledge of the rule.

Attitude or Disruptive Influence

Any behavior that is unsuitable for a work environment.

The employer must prove that the conduct of the employee had an adverse reaction on the employers interest.

Damage to Equipment or Property

Negligence of the employer's interests or the employee's duties. An employer has a right to believe that company equipment and property will be treated with care by all employees.

The employer must show that the action that damaged property was willful or willfully careless or that had the employee been acting reasonably then the equipment would not have sustained damage.

Unsatisfactory Work Performance

Work performance is not considered willful misconduct unless the employer proves that the employee was capable of doing the work but not meeting standards.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Refusing to submit or being able to pass a drug or alcohol test.

The claimant must prove that the test was unlawful, violated an agreement or was inaccurate.

If you have been discharged and feel like your termination was wrongly classified as willful misconduct an unemployment attorney can help you claim your unemployment benefits. Please reach out to us with any questions via phone at (412) 626-5626 or via email at


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