Q: When will a terminated worker be denied unemployment benefits under Massachusetts law?

A: If an employer can prove that a former employee was fired for “deliberate misconduct,” the worker is not eligible for unemployment benefits. To establish misconduct for this purpose, the employer must show that the worker was discharged “for deliberate misconduct on the job, in ‘willful disregard’ of the employing unit’s interests, or a knowing violation of a reasonable and uniformly enforced rule.” Work rules, job descriptions, employee handbooks and documentation of the former employee’s specific deficiencies are vital to establishing “deliberate misconduct.”

If an employer suspects that a terminated employee may pursue litigation, the company should seek the advice of counsel before deciding to challenge the worker’s claim for unemployment compensation.

Note: This article was published in the August 2009 issue of the Massachusetts eAuthority.

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