I was hired for a customer service/admin assistant postion at a company in January 2009. I was told at the time of my training by my immediate supervisor’s sister who had worked for the company for a year that it was acceptable to use the internet for personal use as long as it did not interfer with my work. The company handbook I received a few days later stated the same thing…that it is acceptable to use the internet and email for personal use as long as the use wasn’t excessive and that if it became excessive, then the employee would be warned. If the employee did not lower internet usage after the warning, then the employee might be terminated or other disciplinary action. Throughout the 3 months that I was working for the company, I did access the internet during the morning before my scheduled shift started, during my lunch break, and occasionally during the work day whenever I was finished with work, speaking with my manager about an off-work topic, etc. My immediate supervisor was FULLY aware that I had accessed the internet at work during breaks or otherwise to search for a new apartment, to look up train schedules and tickets, to sell a personal cell phone, to sell a couple of handbags that I had, to email my mother, etc throughout my employment. For the entire 3 months I was working for the company, I was only spoken to once about a job performance issue where they needed me to change a process. Nothing was ever mentioned about excessive computer usage. I had no idea that I was accessing the internet excessively because it never interfered with my work or getting it done, I was constantly getting complimented on the quality of my work, I was never warned, and my manager pretty much condoned the behavior by not saying anything for 3 months.
However, I was still denied unemployment benefits after my first phone interview. In speaking with another claims adjudicator, I was informed that none of the information I had given the gentleman had been recorded. He had merely gone by what the employer had said (which the employer had lied and said that I had been warned numerous times)and had ruled that I was fired for misconduct. I am definitely going to appeal this determination.
My stance on this is that I was under the impression from coworkers, management, and company policy that accessing the internet on company computers and time occassionally was acceptable. I had no idea that the time I was on the internet was excessive, because I had not been warned, even though my manager had been fully aware that I was accessing the internet. I could only assume that my internet usage was condoned, and therefore was not willful misconduct, but was merely an innocent lapse in judgment at the worst and caused no harm or cost to the employer as evidenced by the numerous compliments I received on my work.
Am I on the right track? Any advice?
I think I’d leave out this part:
and therefore was not willful misconduct, but was merely an innocent lapse in judgment at the worst and caused no harm or cost to the employer as evidenced by the numerous compliments I received on my work.
And maybe instead of using the word condoned, something along the lines of “within the limits of what the employer considered to be not excessive use. I was at no time made aware my job was in jeopardy due to my personal use of the internet.