I Think I May Be Fired from My Job

Under Pennsylvania law, a worker who is fired is presumed eligible for unemployment benefits.

First, employers and the government use various terms for the same thing:  your employer choosing to end your employment for a reason other than a lack of work or business closure.  This includes, for example:

  • Fired
  • Discharged
  • Terminated
  • Let go (when not due to lack of work or funding)

Second, presumed eligible means that in order for the government to deny you benefits, your employer must prove you were fired because of work-related willful misconduct. 

This means that an employer must prove that you were fired for misconduct that was: 

  1. Intentional
  2. Related to your job
  3. Recent in time

Most often, an employer will try to establish that you intentionally violated a known rule or policy of the workplace.

Third, be aware that while the employer, in legal terms, holds the “burden of proof,” you as a claimant can actually meet that burden for the employer with your own words or testimony.  That means that statements you made to your employer about your conduct, statements you have made to the UC Service Center (through an application or interview), and statements made to a UC Referee can all be used to establish that you committed willful misconduct. 

What if I had a good reason for my actions? 

Even if an employer proves you were fired for willful misconduct, you have the opportunity to prove you had good cause for your actions.  If the government finds you had good cause for your actions -- for example, you were consistently late to work because of unreliable public transportation -- then you will still be eligible for benefits.

Poor work performance or mistakes at your job should not disqualify you from benefits.

The underlying question in Unemployment Compensation Law is whether the worker is unemployed through no fault of their own. For this reason, an employee fired for making a mistake or for poor performance will generally be eligible for benefits as long as they worked to the best of their ability.  Not being “good enough” at your job is not willful misconduct.

How to Preserve Your Evidence

It may be important to have evidence you can use to rebut the employer’s argument or to prove you had good cause for your actions. Read our tips for preserving your evidence.