Disqualification Rules and Standards
Even if an employee is monetarily eligible to receive benefits based on a prior earnings record, a Claimant still may be disqualified for benefits if the VEC determines that he:
(1) left work voluntarily without good cause;
(2) was terminated from employment for misconduct connected with work; or
(3) declined suitable work.
An employee that quits or otherwise leaves their job must prove “good cause” in order to receive unemployment benefits. It is not sufficient for an employee simply to cite job dissatisfaction. Rather, the employee must show that he or she has taken all of the steps to resolve any conflict that would be taken by a reasonable person desirous of retaining their employment. An employee who is forced to resign is not deemed to have left voluntarily if that employee had no real option to return to the job. By statute, "good cause" shall not include:
(1) voluntarily leaving work with an employer to become self-employed, or
(2) voluntarily leaving work with an employer to accompany or to join his or her spouse in a new locality.
To disqualify an employee from receiving unemployment benefits, the employer has the burden or proving willful misconduct. For VEC purposes, misconduct is defined as a deliberate violation of a material employer rule or recurrent conduct that manifests a willful disregard of the employer's business interests. Simple negligence by an employee does not typically result in a disqualification. However, repeated negligence or failure to meet employer expectations after after a period of demonstrated performance may be considered misconduct, especially where an employer has sought to document warnings.
By statute, "misconduct" includes, but shall not be limited to:
(1) Failing a drug test;
(2) Making an intentionally false or misleading statement of a material nature concerning past criminal convictions in a written job application furnished to the employer, where such statement was a basis for the termination and the employer terminated the employee promptly upon the discovery thereof;
(3) A willful and deliberate violation of a standard or regulation of the Commonwealth, by an employee of an employer licensed or certified by the Commonwealth, which violation would cause the employer to be sanctioned or have its license or certification suspended by the Commonwealth; or
(4) Chronic absenteeism or tardiness in deliberate violation of a known policy of the employer or one or more unapproved absences following a written reprimand or warning relating to more than one unapproved absence.
Notwithstanding, in each of these cases, the VEC may still consider evidence of mitigating circumstances in determining whether misconduct occurred.
A Claimant also may be disqualified for refusing suitable work. In determining whether or not any work is suitable for an individual, the VEC considers the degree of risk involved to his health, safety and morals, his physical fitness and prior training, his experience, his length of unemployment and the accessibility of the available work from his residence. Work generally is not deemed suitable:
(1) If the position offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute;
(2) If the wages, hours, or other conditions of the work offered are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality; or
(3) If as a condition of being employed the individual would be required to join a company union or to resign from or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization.
The receipt of lump sum severance benefits does not disqualify one from unemployment benefits. However, severance benefits are prorated on a weekly basis and applied as an offset to any unemployment benefits to which you may otherwise be entitled.