By Peg Elofson
The claimant was discharged for repeated violation of the employer’s harassment policy. He was disqualified from unemployment benefits upon a finding that he was discharged for misconduct connected with the work. He appealed. A hearing was scheduled before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The Employer’s Evidence: The employer testified that claimant, a recent hire, had received and signed the employer’s harassment policy. That policy specifically prohibited the use of improper pronouns, defined as “misgendering.” The claimant was introduced to a transgender coworker who asked to be referred to using female pronouns. The claimant referred to the coworker using male pronouns. The coworker asked the claimant to use the correct pronouns. The claimant continued using male pronouns. The coworker complained. The claimant and his supervisor met to discuss the coworker’s concerns. The claimant became belligerent and refused to answer questions. The supervisor ended the meeting, and later contacted the claimant with the intent to transfer him to another work site. During that conversation, the claimant admitted he had “made a mistake,” but continued to refer to his coworker as “him.” He was discharged.
The Claimant’s Evidence: The claimant admitted he had “made a mistake.” He also testified he used male pronouns because he believed that the coworker appeared to be male. He testified the coworker harassed him, which he reported to the employer.
The ALJ found the claimant was discharged for misconduct connected with the work, and he was disqualified from benefits. The ALJ found that the claimant’s behavior violated a specific policy, and upon being confronted with his behavior, he continued it. This behavior showed a deliberate disregard for the employer’s policy and interests. The claimant appealed, arguing that the employer did not listen to his side of the story. He also stated they did nothing about the harassment he encountered from the coworker.
The Board of Review (BOR) agreed with the ALJ’s decision, and the claimant remained disqualified from benefits. The claimant’s repeated misgendering of the employee, despite the policy, the coworker’s request that he stop, and the conversation with his supervisor all played a factor. The claimant’s behavior showed a deliberate disregard for the employer’s interests, and was properly considered to be misconduct. The claimant’s allegations of harassment were not considered in the decision. The conduct the claimant used during employment was the deciding factor in the case.
Please remember: Unemployment laws vary from state to state. The result in this case might be different from a case in your state.