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Judges affirm employer's attendance policy is unreasonable

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A company lost on appeal its argument that it had just cause to fire an employee after seven absences from work. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with previous findings that the company’s attendance policy is unreasonable.

Employer P.M.T. argued that it had just cause to terminate L.A. because she knowingly violated the attendance policy by taking more than seven absences in a year. Employees are allowed seven absences in a 12-month period, and if an employee accumulates more, he or she will be fired. The policy only allows for jury duty as an excused absence. If a person is out for multiple days due to illness, a doctor’s note will reduce the period to just one day. The policy doesn’t provide exemptions for verified emergencies, and if someone wants to take time off, it must be scheduled two weeks in advance.

L.A. worked for the company for five years and had requested leave through the Family Medical Leave Act to take care of her terminally ill husband. She had two emergency absences – one due to her own health and one that dealt with her husband – that caused her to miss work and put her over the maximum allowed absences, so P.M.T. fired her.

She applied for unemployment and was ultimately awarded those benefits. An administrative law judge found P.M.T.’s attendance policy was unreasonable as a matter of law and the company failed to sufficiently maintain records showing L.A. knowingly violated the policy. The Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development agreed.

In P.M.T., Inc. v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and L.A., No. 93A02-1105-EX-389, the Court of Appeals also found P.M.T.’s policy to be unreasonable based on the lack of exemptions for both extended personal illness and verified emergencies. The court found that the policy in place doesn’t protect its employees as is required by Jeffboat Inc. v. Rev. Board of Ind. Emp’t Sec. Div., 464 N.E.2d 377, 380 (Ind. Ct. App. 1984). The policy doesn’t protect employees with legitimate reasons for an absence and is contrary to the stated intention of the Legislature to “provide for payment of benefits to persons unemployed through no fault of their own,” wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik, citing Indiana Code 22-4-1-1.

The appellate court also found that L.A.’s absences that resulted in her termination were a result of circumstances beyond her control.

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  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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