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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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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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