Employees who commit “willful misconduct” are not eligible for unemployment compensation after they are terminated. But what is considered “willful misconduct? In Pennsylvania, willful misconduct, as determined in UCIBOR v. Vereenu, a 1977 case, is considered “an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer’s interests, the deliberate violation of rules, the disregard of standards of behavior that an employer can rightfully expect from an employee, or negligence that manifests culpability, wrongful intent, evil design or intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties.
As a recent court ruling shows, the employer does not have to put up with a whole lot of yelling and bullying from employees to deny them unemployment insurance after they are terminated, especially if those employees have a history of belligerent behavior.
In Deal v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 32 C. D., the Petitioner, Kimberly Deal, was an employee at an East Butler metals company. She became alarmed when she read the warning label on a product she had been using. The Petitioner was convinced she had been breathing a dangerous dust and refused to listen to her supervisor’s explanation about the lack of danger. Instead, Ms. Deal became combative. It was not the first time she had been enraged.
The company fired her the next day. When Ms. Deal applied for unemployment, the company denied that it was liable, because the Petitioner’s behavior constituted willful misconduct. The state court agreed.