Fired for refusal to pay for unneeded locksmith

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Fired for refusal to pay for unneeded locksmith

I lost the key to the front door of my workplace where we simply have a house door and door handle. I fully take responsibility for losing my key and would gladly pay to replace the door handle on the front door. However, my boss took it to himself to hire a locksmith from 80 miles away to change both the front and the back door handles. If I refuse to pay the difference and he fires me, will I still be able to collect unemployment?

Asked on May 4, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You *should* be able to collect unemployment, but we cannot provide a 100% definitive answer. When you are terminated, you are eligible for unemployment so long as you are not terminated "for cause." For-cause terminations are generally things like insubordination, criminal activity, unauthorized absences, violating employer policy, and the like. Refusing to reimburse your employer for an expense due to simple carelessness would generally not be considered cause in this context. But because there is a subjective element to the determination--that is, because it comes down to someone's judgment as to how bad what you did was--it can't be ruled out that if your employer contests your unemployment and describes what happens in the darkest tones possible (e.g. claims you angrily declared "I don't care what I did--I don't owe you anything!", making it sound like insubordiantion), that the unemployment examiner might not conclude there was cause for termination. That is unlikely on these facts, but not impossible: you will probably get unemployment, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Even if you get unemployment, unemployment is only a fraction or percentage of your wages: you may be best off paying the locksmith and keeping your job.


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