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Leaving work because your kids need you: misconduct?


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7/4/2014
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Carl Owen (not his real name) had worked as a full-time laborer for his employer for over six months when he was switched to the night shift.  His new supervisor wasn’t totally satisfied with his job performance.  One night, Mr. Owen received a call from his son shortly after he arrived at work, telling him that his babysitter hadn’t shown up.  Mr. Owen consequently asked his supervisor if he could leave early.  From the supervisor’s response, he understood that he was allowed to leave early that night only because the only work that needed to be done that work was clean-up work.  That same night, the supervisor sent a note to the office manager, informing her to discharge Mr. Owen for refusing to do work.  When Mr. Owen arrived at work the next day, he could not get in, and he was informed that he had been laid off.

            Mr. Owen filed for unemployment benefits.  His employer contested his claim, arguing that he was fired for misconduct, and that he therefore is disallowed from receiving benefits.  An Iowa Workforce Development representative agreed with the employer and denied benefits, and Mr. Owen appealed.

            Administrative Law Judge Debra L. Wise agreed with Mr. Owen.  On June 4th, she issued a decision reversing the prior decision and granting him benefits.  Her reasoning came down to this: there seems to have been a miscommunication between Mr. Owen and his supervisor.  Mr. Owen testified at his hearing, but the supervisor did not.  It’s up to the employer to show misconduct, and in this case the employer failed to do so.  Furthermore, even if the supervisor had given testimony showing that Mr. Owen was incorrect in thinking that he had been given permission to go home, a good faith error in judgment is not misconduct.

            Had the supervisor testified the result may have been different, but he didn't and in this instance it was what turned the case in Mr. Owen's favor.  But given these facts, it’s surprising that IWD ever thought he had committed misconduct.  Maybe if he had had an effective lawyer, he would never have had to appeal in the first place.  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 sdlombardi@aol.com and katrina.schaefer8@gmail.com. We look forward to your call.



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