The Seattle PI reported recently on an industrious, if misguided, Iowa man who really wanted his candy bar. Robert McKevitt was working at a warehouse when he decided to take a break. He put a dollar in a vending machine for a candy bar. The vending machine was known to have problems, but when the vending machine did not release McKevitt’s candy bar, he got into a forklift and used it to shake the candy bar loose. He allegedly used the forklift to pick up the vending machine at least six times and drop it from at least two feet. For his efforts, he got three candy bars out of the machine. Apparently, using a forklift to drop his employer’s vending machine was not part of his job description, as he was fired five days later.
According to McKevitt’s, these events never happened and he was only using the forklift to move the vending machine back into place. Unfortunately for McKevitt, a local judge did not believe him. The court determined he had “willfully disregarded his employer’s interests.” As a result of his actions and the judge’s ruling, McKevitt’s did not get his job back and he was denied unemployment benefits.
Keys to Receiving And Maintaining Unemployment Benefits In Washington
Unemployment benefits are a safety net for people who lose their jobs, usually unexpectedly, while they seek other employment. However, there are some important requirements to eligibility for those benefits. The first requirement is at least 680 hours of covered employment in Washington during the qualifying year. Covered employment means employment in an industry that is covered by
unemployment insurance. The qualifying or base year of employment is used both for determining eligibility and for calculating potential benefit amounts.
If a person has enough qualifying hours the next major requirement is that the person was terminated through no fault of their own. No fault terminations can include layoffs, significant reduction in hours, and labor strikes. Generally, voluntarily quitting or being fired for reasons, like using a forklift to drop a vending machine for a candy bar, are not “no fault” situations. Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) will ask both the employee and the employer about the reason for unemployment when determining the cause of unemployment.
Beyond qualifying hours and reasons for unemployment, the ESD requires individuals to apply weekly for their benefits and state that they have been actively searching for employment. Additionally, while finding employment is the goal, ESD does not require a person accept the first job offer they receive. However, if an acceptable job is offered and not accepted, unemployment benefits can be terminated. Fortunately, since every situation is unique, both denial and termination of benefits can be appealed.
If you have questions about or have been denied unemployment benefits, an experienced Washington employment law attorney can help.