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Dispatcher fired after firecracker incident loses unemployment appeal

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An appeals court panel Thursday affirmed denial of unemployment benefits for a Starke County sheriff’s dispatcher who took time off work after a firecracker exploded behind her at work and she was diagnosed with hearing loss, vertigo and tinnitus.

But after dispatcher Gina Albright took sick days, vacation time and bereavement leave, she failed to report to work or call to notify the office that she wouldn’t be in, after which she was fired. The Department of Workforce Development denied unemployment benefits, ruling Albright was fired for cause.

The Court of Appeals agreed in Gina Albright v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and the Starke County Sheriff's Dept., 93A02-1301-EX-81.  The panel noted that while Albright had a diagnosed medical condition due to the incident at work, her doctor had cleared her to work.
 
The record shows Albright was one of two dispatchers who worked 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shifts, four days on and four days off, to cover the northwest Indiana county’s emergency communication services, and authorities said her failure to report to work or call in to report an absence was the first time such an instance had occurred.

The court used the unique responsibilities of dispatchers to set a higher standard for those professionals.

“One of the major objectives of a 911 dispatcher’s duties is to assist people in an emergency. As such, a functioning dispatcher’s office is essential to public safety. There must be a sufficient number of dispatchers on the job so that emergencies are responded to in a timely manner. We conclude that dispatchers are an appropriately distinct class upon which to assess the uniform enforcement of the unexcused, unreported absence policy,” Judge Terry Crone wrote in a unanimous opinion joined by Judges Michael Barnes and Rudy Pyle III.

The opinion also records in a footnote a change in case captions for appeals from the Department of Workforce Development – names, rather than initials, will be used unless an affirmative request for confidentiality is made as outlined in Recker v. Review Board, 958 N.E.2d 1136, 1138 n.4 (Ind. 2011).





 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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