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for missing a shift

by Sara Doty
(Philadelphia, PA)

i went out of town last month for a weekend. it was a saturday and sunday night to return on monday. i am a server in a restaurant. i missed an on call shift on monday afternoon due to me being out of town. i followed the procedure for calling out of my shift (i was unaware i was scheduled) and my boss did find someone to come in and work for me... needless to say, i was fired for missing my on call shift. i worked at this restaurant for over 2 years and have been a good employee- never missed a shift. i did get 3 writeups over the 2 years for being late.

I live in PA and reading their laws makes me feel like i wont receive unemployment benefits... because i was absent. what do you think? i have already applied and my eligibility is coming in the mail soon.


Hi Sara,

I read over what you said and I have some questions.

How did you properly report you wouldn't be in to work if you were unaware you were scheduled for work? How does being out of town on Saturday and Sunday relate to missing a shift on Monday?

What does the attendance policy state about being fired? In other words you were you aware of the policy and since you had been warned previously for tardiness did the last warning include something like .. another occurrence and you will be terminated?

Nothing you included would make me feel hopeful either. It's sounds like the employer followed a progressive discipline policy and fired you for good cause. Your absence was within your control, and you didn't tell us how many times you were tardy to work and for what reason.

Determinations are made from the details.

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I received Determination denying Pennsylvania Unemployment benefits
by: Anonymous

Hi Again Chris,

I got my determination and it was decided that I am ineligible. The findings of fact are below.
- claimant was last employed on 04/1/09
- was discharged for violation of reporting off policy
- employers policy for reporting off was to call-off to report absence
- i should have been aware of reporting off policy
- i was warned about my attendance
- i did not properly report my attendance

Okay, so going from your last comment. I should appeal. My employer's policy about being discharged for absence is 3x and you are out. I have been warned 2x. Therefore, they unlawfully fired me.

Right? Also, do I have to ask my employer for a copy of the policy? Or can I paraphrase it?

Again, thank you so so so much for your help!

Hi Sara,

That determination does not say you are guilty of misconduct for the "number" of absences, but that you you were denied because you failed to report off work properly.

You said in one of your comments that:

"i became aware of my shift on the morning of. my boss called me into work really early in the morning, approximately 8:00am. Our scheduled call in time is 11:15am. So when I found out that I had to be at work and could not, I followed the proper procedure of calling out. During that time, my boss found another sever to work for me."

This is what you need to explain, but if the employer can prove the "schedule" was posted you will have a problem because it is generally considered an employee to make them self aware of the schedule.

Yes, get a hard copy of the policy and use any section you can find to support why you feel the determination is in error. That determination let you know exactly what it is you need to prove.

Focus, focus, focus on the issues in the determination that found you ineligible and how you will prove that you did indeed follow the proper procedure and if you didn't why a break in policy procedure made by the employer is the reason you were not aware your actions would put your job in jeopardy. Only use the policy if it's going to help.

As far as the appeal letter .. don't try to explain much in it .. just enough to get a hearing scheduled.

You are in PA right? Your hearing will be in person .. you can submit documents at the hearing. Get there early to review the file.

Go to the Pennsylvania unemployment website and read up on hearings .. here. There's additional links on the right .. read.

I sure hope I remembered right and you're in PA:)


If I am denied unemployment for missing a shift
by: Chris - webmaster:)

No, once the matter is in the states hands .. the state decides. I have personally sent informational letters to hearing referees in an attempt to correct an employer's mistake which had the effect of denying someone's unemployment, but the best thing any employer can do in that situation is not show up to a hearing. Or if they do show up, just fess up to the fact that policy was not adhered to.

Okay, I'm glad you gave me a few more details because what you can do is use the employer's policy to make your case. If you are denied unemployment initially .. with your appeal letter send along a copy of the part of the policy that supports the facts of how the employer did not follow their own policy. It really is that simple.

I wish to appeal the determination dated (insert date). I believe the determination is in error in finding that I was fired for misconduct. I would like to enter the attached documents into the record to support my appeal. It's at the hearing you will add your testimony.

One common thread that helps an employer prove misconduct is showing that the employee was aware of the rules, was warned when a rule was broken and was aware that their job was in jeopardy. Obviously, if a claimant can prove otherwise .. it strengthens their position. Believe me when I say that employers, unless very knowledgeable about unemployment or prepared by a professional for a hearing .. make many many mistakes that allow even people truly guilty of misconduct eligible for it.

Your friend .. who was fired for spitting on a customer??? The best way for an employer to prove misconduct is to have the customer as a witness or at the very least a statement from the customer. What did your friend tell the state? I doubt he said "I was fired because I purposely spit on a customer who pissed me off". There's a reason for "almost" every determination or decision made. Even though statutes appear to be black and white .. they are interpreted by humans and decisions made by humans are influenced by biases and personally held beliefs and values.

Anyone who works in unemployment on a full-time basis gets a feel for different hearing officers and even the strictness or liberalness of individual states. I also personally think that when someone is denied .. it is the best position to be coming from. I realize that getting benefits is important, but in this case you won't feel any pressure associated with the possibility of repayment. That really is pressure.

Sara, if the initial determination does not go well for you .. just appeal with supporting documentation. An unemployment hearing is for the purpose of "fully developing the record". It's a better venue for "fact finding" than what is experienced at the initial claim level. Those people are so pressed for time and must comply with rigid deadlines.

Come on back when you get the determination, I'll be happy to talk more with you .. if you like.


following up
by: Anonymous


I had never been given a warning about being tardy or missing a shift. the three times i was tardy were within the first year of me being employed. my restaurant has a quarterly policy with write ups- every 4 months they are erased. therefore, my boss has never gave me a warning about my behavior- in other words he never told me i would be fired if i did something else.

secondly. i became aware of my shift on the morning of. my boss called me into work really early in the morning, approximately 8:00am. Our scheduled call in time is 11:15am. So when I found out that I had to be at work and could not, I followed the proper procedure of calling out. During that time, my boss found another sever to work for me.

I feel like I did an inadequate job of explaining myself to the state. And I am afraid I will not be approved. How/what can I say in my appeal to give myself a better chance of being approved.

Also, you should know that I have a friend who was also fired by my boss. He was fired for spitting in a customer's face and he is now receiving unemployment compensation. How on earth could he be approved and not me. Do employers have the ability to ask the state to provide compensation for their employees? I have a feeling that I could ask my boss for help,

Thanks again!

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