Can my former boss legally do this?
1 attorney answer
Your boss is entitled to challenge your benefits, but it sounds like he'll have a hard time showing you committed misconduct.
The Sugar Law Center has a good pamphlet on how to prepare for an unemployment hearing: http://sugarlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Sugar-Law-Handbk-on-Unemployment-Ins.pdf. Be sure to submit relevant text messages and all other evidence to the judge and other party beforehand. You can also bring in witnesses to testify as to what happened, but notify the judge in advance. The judge may even allow the witnesses to appear by phone or can subpoena them if they won't testify voluntarily. I'd recommend seeking a free state-appointed representative at your hearing. You may even want to hire an attorney, especially if your boss is using one. Don't get too nervous. The hearings tend to be more informal than a typical courtroom setting, and it doesn't sound like you committed misconduct. Good luck.
My above response is general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon to take any action. Please seek the advice of counsel before taking any action related to this inquiry.