After you fill out your application for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department sends a letter to your former employer, where the employer needs to verify a few items. Most of the items, such as the dates of employment and your salary, are trivial. After all, these items are of the factual nature and can be easily verified by documents, pay stubs, employers records, etc. One of the items that the employer would need to indicate is the reason for termination. And that is where former employees can get a really nasty surprise.

If the separation was not voluntary, then for the employee to be entitled for the unemployment benefits, the separation must not be due to misconduct.

The following reasons for separation do not constitute misconduct:
• Mere inefficiency,
• Inadequate performance as the result of inability or incapacity,
• Inadvertence or ordinary negligence in isolated instances,
• Good faith errors in judgment or discretion.

The following reasons for separation frequently do constitute misconduct:
• Absence without notice or excuse;
• Deliberate failure to follow employer’s reasonable procedures;
• Insubordination
• Reporting to work drunk
• Violation of certain guidelines related to appearance
• Certain off-job behavior
• Gross negligence
• Civil Rights
• Working for competing business
• Dishonesty
• Falsification of employment application
• Submitting of false time and work reports
• Theft and mishandling of funds
• The use of drugs
• Negligence jeopardizing people’s safety and security
• Neglect of duty
• Violation of company rule

It should be noted that conduct that falls into any of the above categories does not necessarily mean that unemployment benefits would be denied. These categories have exceptions and are subject to interpretation by the labor department. In addition, every situation is fact-specific and may not neatly fall into a single category.

If you have doubts about your unemployment eligibility, you should contact an attorney. If you were fired and your termination is particularly difficult, an attorney may be able to get an agreement from your employer not to contest your unemployment benefits eligibility and to present your termination in a more favorable light.