It's unemployment insurance benefits, burden to prove good cause.
When getting fired, an employee doesn't have to prove misconduct was related to the work. But, it is the employer who must prove facts related to why they ended the at-will employment relationship and with that good cause that can only be misconduct to deny benefits.
Problem is however, they also choose to name whatever the reason might be, when misconduct doesn't rise to a definition of it.
It all makes sense, once you know employers have been fighting former employees unemployment benefits for a very long time. And because that is a fact, they have developed very good strategies, for the purpose of helping an unemployment insurance law agency to perceive you as guilty, at least at the initial determination phase.
But this isn't to say, they might not also try to shift the burden to you, before you out the door by offering that you may quit, in lieu of being fired.
In 1941, six years after unemployment insurance was federally mandated, as part of the Social Security Act of 1935, the Wisconsin Supreme Court wrote an opinion of what they thought employee misconduct is, in general terms.
Ever since, it's been the most widely recognized definition, of what work related misconduct means to a state, or at least in part for some others that have based a definition on it .. in part.
Seriously .. if you've been discharged from a job and you ignore reading the definition to help you understand what your employer can prove you guilty of .. you either already know the definition, you may not be serious about getting benefits, or you're thinking .. hey, my employer let me quit instead of being fired.
If the latter is your situation, believe me, you're on the right page because unlike voluntarily quitting in anticipation of being discharged, quitting instead of being fired .. is still a termination from a job .. unless your resignation letter was written from the perspective of actually documenting to make sure the unemployment department doesn't get the wrong idea.
We're talking strategy now ...
The one thing you have going for you when fired, is you aren't the one expected to help your employer prove your own guilt. And I don't mean by this, that it's okay to tell tall tales, or lie by omission.
But, employees not only do both those things all the time, but when innocent of misconduct, they don't understand where the strength of their own personal job loss circumstances exist within those precepts of misconduct they are always fighting against instead of using to their own advantage to .. rebut an employer's burden to prove them guilty of something in all those words such as, willful, wanton, negligent, culpable, disregard, harmful .. etc
So, if you're on the same page as to what may not be work misconduct .. here's some questions and answers about getting fired as to how you might be able to rebut and poke holes in your employer's burden of proof.
You may of worked for an employer who really didn't have an employee handbook because I hear it all the time. But the employers I used to work with, always had one, even if it could be like pulling teeth to get a copy of the rule someone was fired for violating.
Basically, we're talking about the employer's book of rules and expectations, but often, those rules, terms, conditions, and expectations can apply to you, or the employer.
For instance when a bad boss has got you down, or you think they're about to come in for the ... termination ..
I'm going to ask you, if the employer had an official grievance policy, dispute resolution, or a complaint process to follow in the employee handbook, and if you used it, or at least kept evidence of reality, like emails stating clearly your actions, or what you learned through a conversation with your employer.
At the front of many employee handbooks, you can usually find a disclaimer to the rules and policies in that handbook. It may seem in contradiction to the very idea of even having an employee handbook, but it's intent is to make sure you know .. you work at-will and you're employed at-will and nothing stands in the way of an employer who decides they want to fire you for no good reason.
Employee Handbooks disclaim what's in the handbook to make certain you know you are still an at-will employee in an at-will job.
But when there are no good reasons for getting fired, it's odd how those reasons often raise a potential question of whether the real reason was related to something that may have been an illegal employment practice.