Should worker fired for web use get unemployment?

Taking disciplinary action against an employee for improperly using the Internet at work can bring up some legal questions for companies. Among them: Is wasting time online considered enough of an offense to deny a fired worker unemployment benefits?

The answer is yes, according to one recent court case.

In the case before a court in Michigan (Berglund v. Industrial Tech. Institute), the employer claimed the employee should be denied unemployment because he was fired after spending several hours a day browsing inappropriate and non-work-related websites.

Originally, the employee’s request for unemployment was denied, before that decision was reversed by a court. The company then appealed the reversal.

The decision hinged on whether or not the web browsing could be considered “misconduct.” The employee argued it couldn’t, because it didn’t affect his job performance.

But the court sided with the employer, ruling that the organization had a right to police the way employees use its technology, including the creation of policies designed to stop inappropriate behavior and prevent activity that could result in the network being compromised.

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