Under Minnesota law, one of the reasons a terminated employee may be found ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits is if the employee was terminated for “employment misconduct.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, Subd. 4.
Employment misconduct is defined as “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job that displays clearly: (1) a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee; or (2) a substantial lack of concern for the employment.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, Subd. 6(a). Whether the conduct in which the employee engaged was only a single incident is an important fact in determining whether the conduct rises to the level of employment misconduct, but is not in itself decisive.
The statute expressly states that the following types of conduct do not qualify as employment misconduct:
- Conduct that was a consequence of the applicant’s mental illness or impairment;
- Conduct that was a consequence of the applicant’s inefficiency or inadvertence;
- Simple unsatisfactory conduct;
- Conduct an average reasonable employee would have engaged in under the circumstances;
- Conduct that was a consequence of the applicant’s inability or incapacity;
- Good faith errors in judgment if judgment was required;
- Absence because of illness or injury of the applicant, with proper notice to the employer;
- Absence, with proper notice to the employer, in order to provide necessary care because of the illness, injury, or disability of an immediate family member of the applicant;
- Conduct that was a consequence of the applicant’s chemical dependency, unless the applicant was previously diagnosed chemically dependent or had treatment for chemical dependency, and since that diagnosis or treatment has failed to make consistent efforts to control the chemical dependency; or
- Conduct that was a consequence of the applicant, or an immediate family member of the applicant, being a victim of domestic abuse.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, Subd. 6(b).
Takeaway: Knowing what constitutes employment misconduct can help employers know when it is appropriate to oppose a former employee’s application for unemployment benefits and when the employer’s resources could be better focused elsewhere.