Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Unemployment Compensation Disqualification for Stealing... Trash?

Another oldie but goodie that I dug up while preparing a lesson plan for my employment law class. Today's topic is unemployment compensation. So, of course, we'll cover the concept of "willful misconduct" and the idea that a violation of an employer's policy may lead to ineligibility for unemployment compensation.

What if an employee steals a floppy disk (remember those?) drive from a computer at work? Easy analysis - no UC benefits for you. What if he takes the drive from a computer that has already been thrown away and is on a trash truck? Yup, there's case law on that:
Employer's written policy made it specifically clear that an employee was not to remove any property from the premises without authorization, including “scrap or refuse.”
Gibson v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 760 A.2d 492, 495 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2000). "One purpose for the policy is to prevent employees from placing property in a dumpster in order to remove it later for personal gain."

The Court affirmed the UCBR's decision denying the man unemployment compensation benefits because he had engaged in "willful misconduct." I guess one man's trash is another man's willful misconduct... or something like that.