How To Win An Unemployment Appeal For Misconduct

We’ve talked about Unemployment Willful Misconduct around here before so today we’ll look at some practical ways to be prepared for your unemployment appeal. There are both simple steps that you can take individually as well as a few critical steps that will further your case.

Let’s start with definitions.

shutterstock_234296023Unemployment Compensation – (often referred to as UC) an amount based on your past salary and your reasons for unemployment. Benefits last for up to 26 weeks in Pennsylvania. Here’s the process of qualifying for UC benefits.

Willful Misconduct – an accusation of the employee by the employer that suggests that the employee participated in behavior counter to the employer’s interests, violated company policy, or participated in another workplace infraction.

Overview For Accusation Of Willful Misconduct

Chances are that if you have been accused of willful misconduct, you will need to prove that (1) the misconduct was not as severe as willful misconduct or (2) you had justified cause for your behavior.

How to win an unemployment hearing for misconduct will be most easily won with a good employment lawyer on your side since he or she will know how to challenge your employer’s accusation. It is your employer’s responsibility to prove that you were participating in willful misconduct. Their goal is to show that you, the employee, knew about a certain rule and intentionally violated it. This can be as simple as an employee handbook that you signed. Your employer likely has experience in proving willful misconduct, and they will have resources to support their accusation.

Don’t be intimidated by your employer’s allegation and don’t go in alone, give us a call.

What Are Good Causes For Misconduct?

Although it is your employer’s responsibility to prove your misconduct and you technically don’t have to prove anything, the right information can help refute your employer’s claims.

The idea is to have justified reason for any accusation of willful misconduct that your employer might bring against you. Also, employees who engage in self-defense at the workplace may still be entitled to unemployment compensation benefits. Below reasons are listed that can justify an employee’s misconduct. If any apply to your situation, be sure to note the item so you can gather information to support your claim.

If an employer cites your misconduct as violations of company rules or tardiness, the following lists are considered good causes for an employee’s misconduct.

Violations of Company Rules:

  • illness
  • fear or injury
  • physical inability to comply
  • emergency
  • ignorance of rules
  • vague rules
  • company’s past toleration of rule-breaking

Absenteeism & Tardiness:

  • illness
  • transportation issues
  • family emergency
  • childcare problems
  • bad weather/possible injury
  • religious observances
  • civic duty
  • honestly believed had a holiday

But What Can I Do To Win An Unemployment Appeal For Misconduct?

There are a number of things that you can do to prepare yourself for creating an unemployment appeal that will prevail. The most important item is being informed of your options and being savvy to the unemployment compensation court process. The proceedings can be complex and difficult to navigate.

Talk to an employment attorney to make a game plan. An attorney will be able to recognize if a misconduct did, in fact, happen, and if it did, the attorney will know if it qualifies as willful misconduct. Some misconducts should not be grounds for losing unemployment benefits.

Gather documentation and witnesses. Rummage through your papers until you find everything and anything associated with the alleged willful misconduct and your justified reason for the misconduct. At this juncture, an attorney can advise you in what documentation you’ll want.

Always show deference to the referee* at the hearing. If you end up speaking, be sure to conduct yourself politely and address people appropriately and respectfully. Politeness is a common courtesy.

*judicial officer appointed by a district judge who assesses and recommends a course of action

Work with an employment lawyer. An attorney will be familiar with the process from day 1, being able to advocate and advise on your behalf, especially if legal issues become more involved and witness cross-examination occurs.


If you have been accused of willful misconduct and denied unemployment compensation, contact a lawyer who will know how to advise you.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or