Employment Misconduct in Minnesota Means Just About Anything

Employment misconduct is a phrase used with unemployment benefits in Minnesota.  As you will see, it can mean just about anything. As a result, how events are described is a critical takeaway for applicants to consider.

In my experience, workers, employees, managers and executives focus way to much energy on why they didn’t do anything wrong versus what they did right.   Focusing on what an applicant or employee did right is sometimes a very strong strategy when trying to win an appeal for benefits.

Employment Misconduct
Employment Misconduct

Because misconduct in an employment setting is a phrase used by people who do not understand it, I prefer to focus on what isn’t employment misconduct.

Even more importantly, there are 10 things that are not employment misconduct.  In other words, if a person in MN gets fired or discharged because their actions can be defined as so, then very likely, that same person is on the right track for benefits.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of cases (or a legal precedent) that define this list of 10.  Knowing this list is important.  Knowing how Minnesota further defines this list is even more important.

None the less, I want to introduce these ten things because they can help inspire a successful appeal for unemployment benefits.

Employment Misconduct – The List of 10

Here are the 10 things, in no particular order,  that are not considered employment misconduct:

  1. Medical or Mental health Issues
  2. Inadvertence
  3. Unsatisfactory Conduct
  4. Reasonableness
  5. Inability
  6. Good Faith
  7. Absence because of an Illness
  8. Absence because of a Family Member
  9. Chemical Dependency
  10. Domestic Abuse

Fired Because of Medical issues

Generally, a person who is fired from their job because their work was impacted by a medical or mental health issue can become eligible for unemployment benefits.

Of course, every medical and mental health issue is not treated the same.  For this reason, this issue usually requires a nexus between the health issue and the event(s) that led up to the employee’s termination.

Also, a lot of applicants incorrectly identify this issue and end up disqualifying themselves because their future work is impacted by a medical issue too.  Again, this is a complicated term.

Inadvertence is Not Employment Misconduct

The term inadvertence means something different to nearly every employer.  In my experience, the priority of expectations will usually be the number one contributing factor to a challenge due to inadvertence.

As you might expect, an argument in favor of inadvertence isn’t the strongest approach, but it can work because the law supports it.

Employment Misconduct in MN doesn’t include Unsatisfactory Work

A lot of folks think work satisfaction is production based.  In other words, if I produce something and my employer doesn’t like it, I must have produced unsatisfactory work.

Wrong.  Unsatisfactory work has nothing to do with production and everything to do with expectations.  This means a worker, employee, executive or whomever needs to identify an expectation and prove how it was exceeded.

Unfortunately, a lot of applicants become frustrated when their employers lie about expectations.  For this reason, finding tangible evidence can become increasingly important.

Acted Reasonable is Not Employment Misconduct

I cringe when folks talk to me about reasonableness because they usually have no idea that acting reasonable requires specific examples of past interactions or supporting a specific thought process.

Saying an event was reasonable usually doesn’t stick until the event is compared to past events or past experiences with other staff, customers, or situations.

Nonetheless, showing why an action was done in a reasonable manner can have a very powerful outcome for folks appealing their unemployment benefits.

Inability is Not Employment Misconduct

Like I mentioned above, the term employment misconduct is defined by thousands of court cases.  In my experience, inability can mean a number of things:  lack of skill, lack of training, lack of understanding and work overload.

Sometimes, applicants confuse inability with indifference or a lack of attention.  Nonetheless, this is one of the ten ways a person can prove why they should be eligible for benefits in Minnesota.

Getting Fired When Acting in Good Faith

Good faith and reasonableness have a lot in common.  If worker can outline a specific process and back it up with experience, expertise, knowledge or valid communications, then this issue becomes less complicated.

On the other hand, acting in good faith while using poor judgment can create problems for applicants appealing their unemployment claim.

Is Being Absent from Work, Employment Misconduct?

The difference between being absent from work and abandoning one’s job is huge.  As you might expect, employers need to keep their business running.  When they cannot depend on a person or a person does not show up for work, employers are often left with little choice.

But, just because an employer doesn’t have a choice, doesn’t mean a worker is automatically ineligible for unemployment.

Instead, when employees can prove bad luck, acts of God or an event that the employee did not have control over, then folks have a promising case.

But, communication is key.  Calling into work and sharing bad news, bad luck, etc. always looks good.  Certainly, I have seen plenty of people who have had such bad luck, they didn’t have access to a phone or cell phone.  Yes, even in modern times, people are unable to reach a phone.

Fired for Drugs or Alcohol

The employment misconduct rules in Minnesota are very supportive of folks with drug and alcohol issues.  Where drugs and alcohol turn into a problem for ineligible is when a worker is required to drive or use heavy equipment.  Again though, there are many legal theories around this too.

Domestic Abuse is Not Employment Misconduct

A long, long, time ago, I had a Client who was discharged because they were injured from a domestic abuse situation.  What made their case troublesome was the fact they were unwilling to talk about it openly and they were afraid to seek help from the police.

In my experience, this is more often the rule than the exception.   Sometimes, workers can use the medical and mental health issue referenced above to assist their cause without risking their own safety.  Other times, this isn’t possible.

For those needing help with this issue or any issue listed above, I like the idea of making sure a person is comfortable with the process before proceeding.

Appealing Employment Misconduct

Yes, seeking an appeal is worth the effort.  If you are appealing unemployment benefits after being told in a letter that the unemployment office thinks your actions were employment misconduct, please contact me directly.