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Judges reverse grant of unemployment benefits

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that if an employee’s explanation for the behavior that led to his termination is another terminable offense, that provides just cause for termination. As a result, the judges reversed the decision to grant a fired man unemployment benefits.

In Alebro, LLC v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Jason Scheidell, No. 93A02-1110-EX-970, Alebro, which is a retail seller of salt, appealed the grant of unemployment benefits to terminated employee Jason Scheidell. Scheidell worked for the company for seven years and during that time, some of the company’s salt had been missing. The company learned in 2011 that Scheidell had approached a customer offering to sell him the same salt at a cheaper price. He conducted the sale at Alebro’s property.

Scheidell was fired for theft, but because Alebro didn’t follow proper procedure to admit evidence of the theft, Scheidell was able to rebut the theft allegation. He claimed he did not steal the salt, but just breached his duty of loyalty by selling salt on company property at a lower price. This is also a terminable offense.

The COA concluded that Scheidell is ineligible for benefits because he attempted to rebut the allegation that he stole from Alebro by admitting instead that he only breached his duty of loyalty by selling salt on the company’s property for cheaper than Alebro did, another terminable offense. The judges rejected Scheidell’s argument that their review is limited only to the theft charges. The appellate court decided that the reasoning of Voss v. Review Board of Dept. of Emp’t and Training Servs., 533 N.E.2d 1020, 1021 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989), on which Scheidell relied for his argument, is no longer applicable when an employee defends his behavior against a stated offense by admitting another terminable one.

“He no longer requires the protection of fair notice because he is the one setting forth the allegations of his terminable offenses, not his employer. To do otherwise would allow an employee to turn the shield of Voss into a sword, using his own terminable offenses to obtain undeserved unemployment benefits. This would turn Voss on its head and accomplish the opposite of what the holding in Voss is designed to do,” wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

Judge Terry Crone concurred with a separate opinion in which he wrote about why he believes initials should be used in these types of cases instead of identifying the parties.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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