Q&A with Josh Cline
Legislature clarifies misconduct in denial of unemployment claims
Q: The Oklahoma Legislature recently amended the Employment Security Act regarding eligibility for unemployment benefits for terminated employees. What was the change?
A: Employees who are terminated for misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. That much was true before the recent reforms, but the Legislature passed a bill last month that makes it easier for an employer to prove misconduct if it decides to contest a former employee’s claim for such benefits. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Fallin earlier this month and goes into effect Nov. 1. The change removes all ties to the former “willful and wanton” standard of misconduct that was exceedingly difficult to prove and gave many employers headaches. Further, the new definition gives employers greater latitude regarding employees who are excessively absent from work. And the statute makes clear that employers aren’t required to give the employee a warning if he or she violated a rule that she knew or should’ve known about.
Q: Didn’t the Legislature already address the same issue last year?
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