Can I get Unemployment Insurance if I was fired?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

If you are fired, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance (UI). But, if your employer had rules that were fair, rules that you knew about, and you broke the rules on purpose, you cannot get unemployment. Also, if you purposely did something that caused serious problems for your employer, you cannot get unemployment benefits.

Your employer may not want you to get benefits because he or she pays the taxes for unemployment insurance. If you get unemployment benefits, your employer may have to pay higher taxes. So your employer may try to prove you knowingly broke a fair rule or policy on purpose. Or, your employer may try to prove you acted against his or her wishes.

To prove that you broke a reasonable rule

Your employer must show:

  1. Your employer told you about the rule or policy;
  2. You knew you were breaking the rule when you acted;
  3. The rule is reasonable; and
  4. He or she treats all employees who break the rule in a similar way.

To show that you acted against his or her expectations or interests

Your employer must show:

  1. You knew that your behavior was a surprise to your employer or 
    you knew the way you behaved hurt the business
    and
  2. you were trying to hurt the business.

If you are fired because you could not do the job, you can still get unemployment benefits.

In every case, when you are laid off the DUA will talk to you and the employer to find out if you can get benefits.  Make sure you tell DUA your side of the story.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated December 2012

Take the quiz!

Liz
1. Which of these facts might help Liz qualify for UI?
Liz has been a waitress at Northview Restaurant for six years. Last month, a new owner, Mr. Frost, bought the restaurant. Mr. Frost told Liz that he does not want her to have conversations with any customers—even the customers that she knows well. Yesterday, a customer asked Liz about her brother (who is a friend of the customer). Liz began to tell the customer that her brother has a new job. Mr. Frost heard her talking to the customer and fired her. Liz would like to collect Unemployment. Which of these facts might help her to qualify?
answer type: 
Incorrect
Liz needs the job because she has three children to support.
answer type: 
Incorrect
Liz does not have a high school diploma, so it will be hard to find another job.
answer type: 
Correct
When Liz does not make conversation with customers, they leave very small tips or no tip at all.
answer type: 
Incorrect
Before Mr. Frost bought the restaurant, Liz always made conversation with customers, and the old owner did not have a problem with it.
Correct! Although Liz was fired for breaking Mr. Frost’s rule (about conversation with customers), she may be able show that the rule was not reasonable. Liz needs to be friendly to customers so that they will leave tips. Without the money that customers
Sorry, the correct answer is 'C.'Explanation: Although Liz was fired for breaking Mr. Frost’s rule (about conversation with customers), she may be able show that the rule was not reasonable. Liz needs to be friendly to customers so that they will leave tips. Without the money that customers leave in tips, it is hard for a waitress to earn much money.
2. Will telling about her boss's unfair treatment help her to get UI?
When Mr. Frost bought the restaurant, he hired his nieces, Kim and Sue to wait tables. When Kim and Sue see their high school classmates in the restaurant, they usually stop for a few minutes to say hello to them and find out what’s new. Mr. Frost does not complain when they do this. Liz plans to tell the DUA about the way Mr. Frost treats his nieces. Is this likely to help her get Unemployment?
answer type: 
Correct
Yes
answer type: 
Incorrect
No
Correct! If Mr. Frost does not want Liz to get Unemployment, he has to prove that he treats all of his employees the same way. Kim and Sue broke the rule: they made conversation with customers that they knew from school. He did not fire Kim and Sue. But w
Sorry, the correct answer is 'Yes'. Explanation: If Mr. Frost does not want Liz to get Unemployment, he has to prove that he treats all of his employees the same way. Kim and Sue broke the rule: they made conversation with customers that they knew from school. He did not fire Kim and Sue. But when Liz broke the rule, he fired her. He treated Liz differently than his other workers, and this was not fair.

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