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Lombardi Law Firm

Learning to keep your mouth shut in your unemployment benefits case


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4/25/2014
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Jared Johnson (not his real name) was a hardworking over-the-road truck driver.  One evening in early December, after working long hard hours for days, he fell asleep and hit a traffic light.  He caused quite a lot of damages for his employer and the employer’s insurance company refused to cover him after that because it was such a preventable accident.  So Mr. Johnson was let go a/k/a fired.

Mr. Johnson filed for unemployment benefits and won, but his employer appealed.  Judge Susan D. Ackerman issued a decision in the case on March 3rd, finding Mr. Johnson ineligible for benefits because he was fired for misconduct.  But the misconduct wasn’t the preventable accident—a single act of negligence isn’t  normally enough to warrant a finding of misconduct

Rather, Mr. Johnson ruined his case by putting his foot in his mouth.  While apparently trying to show that the reason he fell asleep was because he worked too hard, Mr. Johnson stated, “My log book was never legal.”  He also acknowledged that he was the one ultimately responsible for his hours and log book.  Accordingly, the judge found that “[Mr. Johnson’s] admission that his log books were never legal demonstrates an intentional and deliberate disregard of the employer’s interests, as well as state and federal laws.

Mr. Johnson made two big mistakes here.  First, he gave unnecessary evidence when he should have known better.  He tried too hard to make a point and probably to garner sympathy; when really, it was the employer’s job to prove something at that stage of the appeal process.  Second, he didn’t hire a lawyer.  Now, not everyone needs a lawyer, but the farther along in the appeals process you are, the more difficult it becomes to know and then to follow the rules.  And if Mr. Johnson had hired a lawyer, he wouldn’t have tried so hard to prove his point—his lawyer would have made him aware that he didn’t actually have to prove anything more than the accident.  Plus, a lawyer would have given Mr. Johnson some choice advice on when to keep his stop talking and when to speak up.

It is like Steve Lombardi says, "If it isn't broken don't try to fix it."

I like to say to my clients, "Help me to help you."  If we can help you call the Lombardi Law Firm to speak with attorneys Steve Lombardi and Katrina Schaefer. We can be reached at 515-222-1110 or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected] We look forward to your call.



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