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Can I fire an employee without having to pay unemployment benefits?

Atlanta, GA |

Employee does 29 hours every week and refuses to listen to me when I told her to not allow homeless people inside the store (coin laundry). She is 'friends' with the homeless man and spend 75% of her time talking to him but doesn't even do what we ask.

Last year when we fired someone, I was required to pay unemployment even though the man (older guy) came sat down and brought his nephew to do all his work!

I don't understand why I cant fire people without being responsible for unemployment

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Attorney answers 2


Unemployment benefits are generally given to terminated employees. The laws are interpreted in favor of the terminated employee. If you want to get rid of a bad employee, you have to accept the fact that she may be awarded benefits despite how poorly she performed at work.

To successfully challenge your former employee's claim, you must show that you had a reasonable, uniformly enforced policy that the employee knowingly violated. As the employer, you have the burden of proving that a terminated employee should be disqualified from receiving benefits. When your employees violate a rule, you should document the warning, clearly stating the policy being violated and how the employee violated it. Have the employee sign the warning. This documentation can be very useful evidence, especially if you have to go before a hearing officer.

Consider - what are your reasons for terminating this employee? Because she lets someone unwanted onto the premises? Because she spends too much time talking to him at work? Because she isn't getting her work done? It can be a combination of reasons, but you need to be clear and to be clear with her.

You also need to consider whether everyone is held to the same standards. If employees are allowed to have visitors at work, the unemployment office may not find that your rule is uniformly enforced.

This answer is provided for guidance only. DO NOT rely on it as legal advice. We DO NOT have an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney in your area for a one-on-one consultation before pursuing any action or making any decisions.


Whether you will be responsible for the payment of unemployment insurance (UI) largely depends on whether the employee was at-fault for the termination. You, as the employer, have the burden of establishing the employee's conduct disqualifies her from receiving UI. Here, you will need to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the hearing officer/claims examiner that your business has a policy (preferably, a written policy) which prohibits employees from permitting homeless inside the store, and that the employee knew about the policy, and violated it. This violation would not only justify her termination, but should disqualify her from receiving UI benefits. If the employee "didn't know" about the policy, or was never previously warned about violating it, the Dept of Labor will likely permit her to receive UI benefits. You should adopt an employment policy on this issue, disseminate to your employees, and discipline them in writing if they violate company policies.

Dean R. Fuchs
This post is not legal advice; rather it is for informational and marketing purposes only.

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