Employment LawGeneral

Summary of unemployment law in Virginia: I was fired, am I entitled to Unemployment Benefits in Virginia?

Summary of unemployment law in Virginia: I was fired, am I entitled to Unemployment Benefits in Virginia?

Unemployment Benefits are provided by the legislature under specified conditions. The statutory provisions are found in Title 60.2 of the Code of Virginia. Beginning at § 60.2-100.

The court in Francis v. Va. Empl. Comm’n, 59 Va. App. 137, 143-145 (Va. Ct. App. 2011), provided a good overview and summary of the law. The information that follows is taken from that case with a few minor modifications:

Under the Act, “‘[t]he legislature intended unemployment benefits to be paid only to those who find themselves unemployed without fault on their part.‘” Va. Empl. Comm’n v. Cmty. Alternatives, Inc., 57 Va. App. 700, 704, 705 S.E.2d 530, 532-33 (2011) (quoting Va. Emp’t Comm’n v. Trent, 55 Va. App. 560, 568, 687 S.E.2d 99, 103 (2010)). Nevertheless, since the Act is remedial in its purpose, id. at 708, 419 S.E.2d at 282 (citing Israel, 7 Va. App. at 172, 372 S.E.2d at 209), “[e]ven employees who are fired for what the employer considers good cause may be entitled to unemployment compensation,” Blake v. Hercules, Inc., 4 Va. App. 270, 273, 356 S.E.2d 453, 455, 3 Va. Law Rep. 2620 (1987). Thus, “‘the statutory term “misconduct” should . . . be construed in a manner least favorable to working a forfeiture so as to minimize the penal character of the provision by excluding cases not clearly intended to be within the exception.'” Piggly Wiggly, 14 Va. App. at 707-08, 419 S.E.2d at 282 (quoting 76 Am. Jur. 2d, Unemployment Compensation § 77 (1992)).

“‘Furthering this policy goal, Code § 60.2-618(2)(a) prohibits benefits if the Commission finds such individual is unemployed because he has been discharged for misconduct connected with his work.'” Cmty. Alternatives, 57 Va. App. at 704, 705 S.E.2d at 532-33 (quoting Trent, 55 Va. App. at 568, 687 S.E.2d at 103). [A]n employee is guilty of “misconduct connected with his work” when (1) he deliberately violates a company rule (2) reasonably designed to protect the legitimate business interests of his employer, or (3) when his acts or omissions are of such a nature or so recurrent as to manifest a willful disregard of those interests and the duties and obligations he owes his employer. Branch v. Virginia Employment Commission, 219 Va. 609, 611, 249 S.E.2d 180, 182 (1978) (emphasis in original). “‘The Branch definition of misconduct has two prongs.'” Piggly Wiggly, 14 Va. App. at 705, 419 S.E.2d at 281 (quoting Israel, 7 Va. App. at 173, 372 S.E.2d at 209). “The first prong defines misconduct as a deliberate violation of a company rule.” Id. at 705, 419 S.E.2d at 281. “[T]he second prong contemplates actions or omissions of such a nature or so recurrent as to manifest a willful disregard of the employer’s interests and the duties and obligations the employee owes the employer.” Id. “A forfeiture of benefits will be upheld only where the facts clearly demonstrate ‘misconduct,‘” id. at 707, 419 S.E.2d at 282, and “[t]he employer bears the burden of proving [that] misconduct,” id. at 705, 419 S.E.2d at 280. Once that burden is met, the employee is disqualified for benefits “‘[a]bsent circumstances in mitigation'” ] of his conduct. Id. (quoting Branch, 219 Va. at 611-12, 249 S.E.2d at 182). “‘The burden of proving mitigating circumstances rests upon the employee.'” Id. at 705, 419 S.E.2d at 280-81 (quoting Branch, 219 Va. at 611-12, 249 S.E.2d at 182).

FOOTNOTES:

If you voluntarily quit without good cause you will be disqualified from benefits.

For the complete statute – click here -> §60.2-618

n2 Code § 60.2-618 provides: An individual shall be disqualified for benefits upon separation from the last employing unit for whom he has worked 30 days or 240 hours or from any subsequent employing unit:

* * * *

2. a. For any week benefits are claimed until he has performed services for an employer (i) during 30 days, whether or not such days are consecutive, or (ii) for 240 hours, and subsequently becomes totally or partially separated from such employment, if the Commission finds such individual is unemployed because he has been discharged for misconduct connected with his work.(Emphasis added.)

 

Disclaimer

The materials are prepared for information purposes only.  The materials are not legal advice and you should not act upon the information without seeking the advice of an attorney.  Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship.