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Judges order hearing on unemployment benefits

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A man, whose request for a continuance in a hearing regarding his unemployment benefits was denied by an administrative law judge, is entitled to a hearing on the matter, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

An administrative law judge determined that J.W.B. hadn’t shown good cause to grant his request for a continuance of a hearing regarding his receiving of unemployment benefits. His former company challenged the grant of benefits and the ALJ set the matter for a telephonic hearing on Nov. 10, 2010. On Nov. 3, J.W.B.’s counsel filed a motion for continuance because J.W.B.’s mother had just died and he would need to be out of state for six weeks and would not be available for the hearing. The ALJ denied the motion, finding he didn’t demonstrate good cause for the continuance.

On the day the hearing was set, J.W.B.’s attorney filed another motion for a continuance because J.W.B. was out of town and because she had another hearing with a different ALJ at the same time as J.W.B.’s hearing. The judge tried calling the attorney and got a busy signal. The ALJ issued her opinion that J.W.B. failed to participate and reversed the determination that J.W.B. was eligible for unemployment benefits. The Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development affirmed the ALJ’s decision.

In J.W.B. v. Review Board, No. 93A02-1101-EX-5, the Court of Appeals noted that except for the ALJ noting that J.W.B. didn’t participate in the hearing and that he didn’t sustain his burden of proof that he had voluntarily left his employment for good cause, her decision is silent about the conclusion that the grounds stated in support of the motions for continuance didn’t constitute sufficient cause for granting them. The review board’s wholesale adoption of the ALJ’s findings and conclusions is also silent about its conclusion that the denial of the motions for continuance should be affirmed, or whether that issue was even considered by it, wrote Judge James Kirsch.

The ALJ stated she denied J.W.B.’s motions because he hadn’t shown good cause. “Good cause” hasn’t been defined for purposes of a motion to continue an unemployment-benefits appeal hearing, wrote the judge, but it has been defined in other contexts relating to unemployment benefits.

“We believe the following passage ... is worth reproducing here: ‘While we agree no such definition appears in Indiana statutes, regulations, or the Review Board’s materials submitted in this case, the absence of definition would be a substantive issue as to lack of clarity in the law, not a procedural deficiency. While the lack of legal definition could, in some cases, impede this court’s review of a Review Board decision to the extent we must have some legal standard to apply to the facts found by the Review Board, it does not do so here, in part because we are not faced with a pure question of law,’" wrote Judge Kirsch, citing S.S. v. Review Bd. Of Ind. Dep’t of Workforce Dev., 941 N.E.2d 550 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011).

Disagreeing with the ALJ’s and review board’s conclusion that good cause was not shown, the judges ordered the review board to grant J.W.B. a hearing upon due notice.

Either of the reasons he gave for a continuance on their face constituted good cause, and he was prejudiced by the denial of his motions, the court concluded.

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  1. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  2. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  3. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  4. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  5. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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