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Majority upholds dismissal of unemployment benefits appeal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split today on whether a woman’s appeal after she was denied unemployment benefits should be reinstated. The woman claimed she missed the administrative law judge’s phone call because of confusion regarding different time zones.

S.S. appealed the denial of her unemployment benefits and a telephonic hearing was set. S.S. lives in Hammond and the administrative law judge was in Indianapolis. The notice she received said her hearing would be at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and that the ALJ would call all the parties. The notice also gave instructions regarding different time zones in Indiana and said it's S.S.’s responsibility to know which time zone she is in and when the hearing will take place.

S.S. missed the ALJ’s call because she was in a federal building attending a food stamp hearing and believed the hearing was set for 10:15 a.m. Central Standard Time. Her appeal was dismissed, and her request for reinstatement was denied by the appeals director and the review board.

Chief Judge Margret Robb and Judge Patricia Riley affirmed in S.S. v. Review Board, No. 93A02-1006-EX-738. They concluded that S.S. was afforded due process and a reasonable opportunity for a hearing. They also held there weren’t any errors in the review board’s consideration of evidence or its denial of her request to reinstate her appeal. They noted she could have asked that the ALJ change the date or time of the unemployment hearing so she could attend both the food stamp and unemployment hearing, but she did not. The majority also decided that she wasn’t denied a reasonable opportunity to participate in a hearing even if she was confused by the time zones.

The majority also noted concern regarding the lack of statutory or regulatory authority governing the grant or denial of reinstatement of a Department of Workforce Development administrative appeal. The appeals director’s order cited a regulation that expired on Jan. 1, 2009, and hasn’t been readopted, wrote Chief Judge Robb. The review board’s appellate brief includes DWD Policy 2008-28, but that has not been promulgated as a rule.

“Absent authority in the statutes specifically governing the DWD, or in its properly promulgated regulations, there is simply no statutory or regulatory authority governing, among other things, the grant or denial of a request for reinstatement. Especially given that this issue is likely to recur with some frequency, we urge the DWD to promulgate an applicable rule. If the DWD fails to do so, then the legislature may need to take corrective action to fill this legal gap,” she wrote.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented, focusing on the review board’s denial of S.S.’s request for reinstatement. She believed S.S. timely filed her request as opposed to the arguments of the appeals director and review board that she filed it too early or too late.

“Plausible arguments about due process aside, and looking at the total picture, we have before us the situation of a stressed-out, financially strapped, unemployed woman who made the very common mistake of confusing the time for her hearing to be an hour later rather than an hour earlier than the stated time given the time zone she was in, a mistake made every day by those who must negotiate the two time zones existing among the various counties of Indiana,” she wrote.

She noted S.S.'s appeal may or may not have merit, but all she wants is to have the appeal heard.
 

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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