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COA sides with man accused of stealing hotdogs

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The Indiana Court of Appeals says a man who was fired for snatching two hotdogs from the company refrigerator is entitled to unemployment benefits. In its opinion, the COA reversed a decision by the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that stated Nolan Koewler’s employer – Dillards – was justified in terminating his employment.

On July 4, 2010, Dillards hosted a cookout, providing hotdogs and hamburgers for its employees. Dock manager Mike Marz had testified that the leftovers were to be saved for Labor Day. But the appeals court found that Marz told employees to put away the food; he did not testify that Koewler heard the food was intended for Labor Day.

“The record reveals that employees had been offered hamburgers and hotdogs for consumption; it does not reveal that the rescission of this offer of celebratory food was in fact communicated to Koewler,” the court wrote.

A day after the cookout, Koewler took two hotdogs from the refrigerator. Marz checked surveillance camera footage, and upon seeing Koewler nab the leftovers, reported him to the store manager.

The appeals court stated that Marz’s testimony in N.K. v. Review Board , No. 93A02-1012-EX-1431 indicates that the “off-limits” hotdogs were those destined for a freezer. However, Koewler and Marz each testified that the hotdogs at issue were retrieved from the refrigerator.

At a meeting with the store manager, Koewler admitted to the incident. A police officer was summoned, and the store manager advised Koewler that he had a choice: Sign a statement that he stole two leftover hotdogs or spend the night in jail. Koewler signed the statement and was fired.

A claims deputy for the department of workforce development had initially found that Koewler was entitled to receive unemployment compensation because he was not discharged for just cause. Dillards appealed. After a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge affirmed the deputy’s decision, and Dillards then appealed the review board. The board cited Indiana Code Section 22-4-15-1(d) in determining Koewler’s termination was just.

The appeals court held that “just cause,” as defined in Indiana Code Section 22-4-15-1, subsection (d)(9), is: “any breach of duty in connection with work which is reasonably owed an employer by an employee.” Koewler does not deny that he took the hotdogs, but no proof exists to support that he knew doing so was forbidden, the court stated.

Calling the board’s decision “unreasonable” and “contrary to law,” the appeals court reversed.

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  • Dillards Should Be Ashamed
    Dillards is ridiculous and should be ashamed to even fire this gentlemen, particularly in this rough economy. The value of the hotdogs is probably $2 and they want to take this to the Supreme Court. Dillards should br ashamed and the store manager should be fired for being an idiot.
  • Dillards Should Be Ashamed
    Dillards is ridiculous and should be ashamed to even fire this gentlemen, particularly in this rough economy. The value of the hotdogs is probably $2 and they want to take this to the Supreme Court. Dillards should br ashamed and the store manager should be fired for being an idiot.

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  2. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  3. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  4. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  5. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

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