Damien, Dominic and DevonLet’s say you’ve been fired and you’ve filed a claim for unemployment benefits.  Your employer says you were fired for doing X.  You say X never happened.  How is the judge supposed to sort things out when what it comes down to is he-said, she-said?

Cody Albright (not his real name) was fired after his employer received a complaint against him from another employee.  That employee and her friend had alleged that Mr. Albright had made inappropriate comments about the employee performing sexual favors to her doctor so she could remain on restricted work.  An associate had witnessed an altercation between Mr. Albright and the female employee, but not the altercation at issue.  Mr. Albright was fired due to his employer’s no-tolerance harassment policy.

Mr. Albright applied for unemployment insurance benefits and found ineligible.  He appealed the decision, and Administrative Law Judge Duane Golden issued the appeal decision on July 3rd

As you might expect, Mr. Albright’s employer’s argument was that he was fired for misconduct and therefore is ineligible for unemployment benefits.  In the appeal hearing, only one person presented the employer’s side of the case: the employer’s human resources coordinator.  IN other words, the employee Mr. Albright had allegedly harassed did not present evidence, and neither did her friend.  The associate who witnessed an altercation between the two employees also did not present testimony.  The employer rested its entire case on a human resources representative, and because of that, every piece of evidence on the employer’s side was hearsay. 

Judge Golden stated, “[I]f a party has the power to produce more explicit and direct evidence than it chooses to present, the administrative law judge may infer that evidence not presented would reveal deficiencies in the party’s case.”  What that means is that since it’s the employer’s burden to prove misconduct, he can hold against it the fact that the only evidence they produced was secondhand.  The outcome?  Mr. Albright was found eligible for unemployment benefits.

What does this mean for you?  Hopefully, it helps clear something up about the unemployment benefits system in Iowa.  To help you figure out how strong your case is, think about what their evidence is and think about what yours is.  Do they have firsthand evidence?  Are they likely to present it?  These things can help ease your mind, or help you prepare for your hearing.  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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