Remain eligible for unemployment compensation: Don't call your boss a liar.

Posted January 2014 in Unemployment Compensation by Andrea C. Farney

When your boss tells you something untrue about your job performance you should be careful how you respond or you might jeopardize your unemployment compensation.  It is natural to be upset, especially if what the boss is telling you isn’t really true.  By saying nothing, your silence might indicate you agree with the falsehood.  One thing not to do is use vulgar or abusive language as this can jeopardize your unemployment if you get fired.  If you are going to point out your disagreement, try to make clear you are not calling your boss a liar.  For example, in a recent concurring opinion in a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case, Judge Cohn Jubelirer explains that when an employee tells her supervisor “I’m not calling you a liar, but that is a lie,” the employee may still get unemployment.  What mattered to Judge Jubelirer was that the employee did not use bad language while she was disagreeing with the untrue statement.  See Laster v. UCBR


Lawyers will find Laster notable because it emphasizes circumstances where the Unemployment Compensation Review Board can properly reconsider its own decision.  In Laster, the Board had first made a decision finding Ms. Laster eligible for unemployment.  The employer asked the Board for a “do over.”  The employer did not submit any new reason or circumstances to the Board to take a relook at the decision.  The Board subsequently reconsidered the decision reversed itself, finding Ms. Laster now ineligible.  The Commonwealth Court disagreed and found Ms. Laster eligible because the Board abused its discretion in giving the employer a second bite at the apple when there wasn’t any new evidence, changed circumstances, or a failure to consider relevant law.  So, if you’re an employee or an employer seeking to have the Board reconsider a decision, make sure to provide a change of circumstance, new evidence that was unavailable at the time of hearing, or a legal theory that the Board failed to consider in its initial decision.

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