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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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