Unemployment Defense in Illinois: What to Know About Employee Misconduct

In Illinois, unemployment benefits provide much needed financial protection to individuals who have lost a job. Employers pay into the program to ensure funds are available for workers who need to make a claim. However, not every unemployed person is entitled to receive such benefits.

An employee terminated for “misconduct” may be ineligible for benefits, however, it is up to the employer to challenge the unemployment claim. In this article, our Chicago unemployment defense attorneys explain the most important things employers need to know about contesting an unemployment claim on the grounds of employee misconduct.

Employees Fired for Misconduct May Be Disqualified for Unemployment Benefits

Under the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, companies and organizations have the right to challenge a claim for unemployment benefits for “employee misconduct.” More specifically, there are eight (8) grounds for disqualifying a former worker for unemployment benefits based on misconduct, which are:

  • The falsification of an application or other records used to get the job;
  • The failure to obtain or maintain a required professional license;
  • Repeated violation of a workplace attendance policy after receiving an official written warning;
  • Causing damage to an employer’s property through gross negligence or intentional misconduct;
  • Outright insubordination against an employer’s lawful instructions or policies;
  • Consumption of drugs or alcohol on the employer’s premises or a worksite during work hours;
  • Showing up to the job under the influence of alcohol or a banned substance; and
  • Otherwise grossly negligent conduct, which threatens the safety of others.

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, these are not necessarily the only grounds an employer can use to disqualify a former worker from getting unemployment benefits. Though often somewhat more challenging, employers can also fight against benefits by proving “deliberate and willful” violation of express workplace policies.

Illinois Unemployment Defense: The Burden of Proof is on the Employer

Challenging an unemployment claim is not necessarily easy — even in cases involving workplace misconduct. In these cases, the burden of proof is always on the employer. If you are disputing an unemployment claim, you must be prepared to present comprehensive, well-organized evidence establishing a claimant’s ineligibility for benefits.

Why Employee Unemployment Claims Matter to Employers

If one of your former workers is collecting unemployment benefits in Illinois, your “account” will be “charged” for them — the higher the rate of workers’ collecting benefits, the higher your contribution rate to the Illinois unemployment insurance system. For this reason, employers may want to dispute unemployment claims filed by people who were terminated for their own misconduct.

Contact Our Chicago, IL Employment Lawyer for Immediate Assistance

At North Suburban Legal Services LLC, our Illinois employment law attorneys are skilled, results-oriented advocates for companies and organizations. If you have questions about your rights or options, we can help. To arrange a confidential consultation, please contact us at (312) 909-6089. From our law office in Chicago, we represent employers throughout the region, including in Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County and Kane County.

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