Spider-Man gets fired, but shouldn't expect unemployment benefits

The firing today of Spider-Man's alter ego, Peter Parker, will put him in the unemployment line, but he shouldn't expect to get unemployment benefits.

That's because his misconduct -- doctoring a picture to clear his wrongly-accused boss of some illegal activity -- likely makes him ineligible for unemployment benefits.

I say unlikely because each state has its own laws, although Nolo.com points out that in general employees are entitled to such compensation if they quit or are laid off.

Spider-Man has nothing to lose by applying for benefits after being fired. His former employer might not challenge it and one caseworker could read the "misconduct" rule differently.

Misconduct -- and I'd bet that a photographer doctoring a photo on the job would be viewed as such by the New York Department of Labor -- can lead to firing and no unemployment benefits. According to Nolo, "The trick lies in figuring out which reasons to fire are serious enough to qualify as misconduct and justify denying benefits."

Willfully doing something that substantially injured the employer's business interests is misconduct, such as revealing trade secrets or sexually harassing coworkers. Other forms of misconduct include extreme insubordination, chronic tardiness, numerous unexcused absences, intoxication on the job, and dishonesty.

Actions that can result in firing but aren't misconduct include poor performance because of lack of skills, good faith errors in judgment, off-work conduct that doesn't impact an employer's interests, and poor relations with coworkers.

Spider-Man might be able to claim at a hearing that he committed a good faith error in judgment, which wouldn't be misconduct and thus allow him to collect unemployment, but any decent newspaper photographer knows it's unethical to doctor a photo.

Basically, collecting unemployment benefits comes down to either being laid off for financial cutbacks out of the employee's control, or quitting a job for "good cause," such as suffering harm or injury if staying put.

If he lucks out and does receive benefits, Spider-Man can at least avoid the New York unemployment lines and file online and can determine how many of weeks of benefits he's entitled to.

According to Parker's real-life editor, Steve Wacker, Parker is going to be out of a job for awhile.

"He's going to struggle with unemployment and trying to save the city while he can barely afford to keep a roof over his head," Wacker said at Comic Book Resources.

The 868,553 unemployed people in New York know what he's up against.
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