Unemployment Case Analysis

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Please remember: Unemployment laws vary from state to state. Contact your Unemployment Consultants with any questions.

Unemployment Case Analysis
August 2013

Background:

The claimant, a receptionist, filed for unemployment benefits after she was discharged for dishonesty. She was allowed benefits upon a finding that her discharge was not for misconduct connected with her work. The employer disagreed and appealed. A hearing was scheduled before an administrative law judge.

At the Hearing:

The employer testified: The claimant was responsible for reconciling the daily receipts for a medical office. On the date of the final incident, the “drawer” was over by $22. The claimant did not report the overage as required. She had been suspended previously about being dishonest regarding the reason for an absence, and was aware that the final incident could result in the termination of her employment.

The claimant testified: I had been warned. I did know that I was required to report any cash overages, but I did not report the overage that day. I did not intend to deceive my employer. I was trying to determine where the extra cash came from, and was planning to report my findings at the end of the week.

The Hearing Decision:

The administrative law judge found that the claimant was discharged, but not for misconduct. The judge found that the claimant did not intend to deceive the employer because she was investigating the overage. Without intent to deceive the employer, the claimant could not be disqualified. The employer disagreed with the decision and appealed to the Board of Review. The employer argued that the claimant showed intent to deceive simply by failing to report the overage despite knowing she was required to.

The Board of Review Decision:

The Board of Review found that the claimant was discharged for misconduct connected with the work. The claimant’s deliberate failure to report the cash overage, despite her knowledge that it was required, was dishonest. The claimant had been warned regarding dishonesty. The Board decided that the claimant’s repeated dishonesty after warning was deliberate and the claimant was disqualified from benefits.

Take-aways:

Generally, a claimant’s actions must be deliberate for a finding of misconduct. If a claimant’s actions were unintentional, it is difficult to find that the claimant’s actions were in deliberate disregard of the employer’s interest. If a final incident might be unintentional, be prepared to provide evidence that the claimant had been warned about similar actions. A warning places a claimant on notice that she must be more careful in the future. A failure to be more careful can be found to be intentional, though simple mistakes generally do not rise to the level of misconduct.

A claimant has the opportunity to explain her actions. A claimant always has the opportunity to explain her behavior. If she can convince an ALJ that her actions were unintentional, benefits would be allowed. Be prepared to counter a claimant’s assertions that her actions were not deliberate.

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