What is Section 402(e) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law?
Per the UC PA Gov website, Section 402(e) provides that an individual who is discharged from employment for reasons that are considered to be Willful Misconduct connected with his/her work, is not eligible to receive benefits. The employer must show that the employee's actions rose to the level of willful misconduct.
What does this mean? Willful misconduct comes down to an employee deliberately breaking the rules, or disregarding the professional expectations within a workplace. Pennsylvania is an At-Will State, meaning employers are legally allowed to dismiss employees for any reason, as long as that reason is not based on discrimination. If an employee is terminated due to the intentional act of neglecting their duties or not providing adequate work, they can be terminated and considered ineligible for Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits.
What are some examples of Willful Misconduct in the workplace?
Intentionally Violating Company Rules
Intentional, being the key word. If you broke a Company Rule on accident due to lack of training or poor business communication, Willful Misconduct may not apply. If you knowingly disregard a rule or policy procedure, you may lose your job and find yourself ineligible to collect Unemployment Benefits.
No Call, No shows or coming into work late
Life happens, and throws things in our way from time to time. When there is a pattern of consistent lateness or not showing up, this could be enough to prove Willful Misconduct and compromise your Unemployment Benefits being approved. If your call-off was due to an Emergency, and your attendance prior was not an issue, you may be eligible for Benefits.
Providing Low-quality work
Reasonability, is what determines quality. It is reasonably difficult to complete tasks when being sexually harassed or discriminated against. However, if the quality of work is low due to sleeping on the job or being intoxicated, that would be defined as Willful Misconduct.
Being Disruptive or having a Bad Attitude
Employers should rightfully expect a certain degree of professionalism from their employees, regardless of the company and position. When an employee shows a disregard for respectful behavior or act in a consistently distracting way that causes poor work flow, termination can be justified. However, there are arguments to be made if the behavior is in response to harassment or discrimination.
Damaging Company Property
It is a reasonable expectation for employees to treat company property with care, and can be deemed as negligent when an employee damages equipment. Carelessness can be seen as Willful Misconduct, unless there is a pattern of Employer's inability to keep equipment maintained or a work zone generally safe for staff. If you were terminated due to property damage, reach out to our team to assess if it was really your fault.
Drug & Alcohol Testing
An employer is permitted by law to request Drug & Alcohol Testing prior to hiring and during employment for several reasons. If employer suspects drug or alcohol use on company property, they may request an employee to take a test. Depending on whether or not the company receives Federal Funds, there are certain medications that even if shown positive in a test would result in a Wrongful Termination if you were let go under Willful Misconduct. However, if you arrive at work obviously intoxicated or under the influence, even on prescribed medications, that would be a legitimate reason to be let go and be considered ineligible for benefits.
Manes & Narahari, LLC specializes in employment and unemployment matters such as arguing for your benefits, assisting in wrongful terminations, discrimination, harassment, hostile work environments, as well as other matters that take place in the workplace