Could you be fired if your boss doesn’t approve of the things you do outside of work? Yes. Experts say that an employer can fire you for any reason. But there’s a new wrinkle: You could also be denied unemployment because of your outside-of-work, on-your-own-time activities, even if they have no connection to your ability to do your job. Why? Because the company you worked for pays for your unemployment insurance. And more companies are looking for new ways to cut costs.
Up until recently, you could only be fired for what happened during the workday, while you were on the clock and on the premises, or out and about representing your company. The only exception: If your off-the clock activities directly impacted your job. Say, you drove a school bus and got a DUI over the weekend, or you handled money and were convicted of theft.
But these days, more states have laws saying misconduct unrelated to job performance can disqualify fired employees from receiving benefits. For example, say your boss has a rule that you can’t speak disrespectfully of him. If you mouth off about him to friends on a Saturday night, you can be fired and denied unemployment benefits. Same thing goes if your boss is a tea-totaler and expects his employees to stay sober, and discovers that you drink after hours.
Of course, it’s not a slam dunk. Your employer has to prove that you knew about the rule, and that you deliberately violated it. But a judge would get to decide whether you get unemployment benefits or not.