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Supreme Court upholds unemployment benefits for Chrysler workers

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The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed the decision by the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development granting unemployment benefits to Chrysler workers who took voluntary buyouts.

In 2008 and 2009, Chrysler offered a buyout program – the Enhanced Voluntary Termination of Employment Program – to employees in Kokomo. Employees who participated in the EVTEP relinquished all recall and seniority rights with Chrysler. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development then terminated unemployment benefits for those employees who had been on layoff prior to accepting the EVTEP, and it denied unemployment benefits to the employees who had been actively working for Chrysler prior to accepting EVTEP. Both groups appealed to an administrative law judge, who determined that those employees who were on indefinite layoff before accepting the EVTEP were entitled to continued unemployment benefits, but the employees who were actively working or on temporary layoff were not. Chrysler and the employees then appealed to DWD’s review board, which found that all employees who accepted the buyout were eligible for benefits under Indiana Code 22-4-14-1(c) despite a lack of good cause for leaving their job.

Subsection (c) said that “[e]xcept as provided in IC 22-4-5-1, a person who: (1) accepts an offer of payment or other compensation offered by an employer to avert or lessen the effect of a layoff or plant closure; and (2) otherwise meets the eligibility requirements established by this article; is entitled to receive benefits in the same amounts, under the same terms, and subject to the same conditions as any other unemployed person.”

Even though the provision at issue has been repealed, the justices ruled on the case because it’s a matter of real consequence to the parties involved, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard for the unanimous court in Chrysler Group, LLC v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and T.A., et al., No. 93S02-1109-EX-565.

The justices agreed with Chrysler’s argument that I.C. 22-4-14-1(c) requires a desire to avert or lessen the effect of a layoff or plant closure be viewed from the perspective of the employer. But the justices didn’t accept Chrysler’s argument that it hadn’t explicitly announced the particular plant closure or layoffs, so the provision at issue shouldn’t apply.

The high court didn’t see why such an explicit declaration of the employer’s intent is necessary under the provision, and “Chrysler’s approach would undermine these humanitarian purposes, allowing a disingenuous employer to side-step its responsibilities under the Act by simply choosing its words carefully to avoid an explicit declaration of intent,” wrote the chief justice.

The justices also found no reason that Chrysler must have intended to close the plants where the employees worked or lay off additional people at those plants for the provision to apply. The EVTEP did ultimately avert or lessen the effects of the layoffs, and there is substantial evidence that Chrysler intended for the program to lessen the effect of the layoffs or plant closure.  

 

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  • A forgery EVTEP
    A EMPLOYEE HAVE BEEN THREATENED TO TAKE THE BUYOUT, ON THE DAY OF 12/04/2009 SHE NERVER SIGN OUT FOR NO BUYOUT, CHRYSLER THREATETENED HER TO TAKE IT. CHRYSLER ALSO BACK DATED TO 11/13/2009,
  • lawyer to take my case
    I also took buyout in 09 yet I have not recieved my unemployment looking for lawyer to win my case
  • Need Info
    I also am seeking information pertaining to the lawyers that handled this case. Also how to make a claim.
  • Chrysler worker
    I took the buyout in 2009, I would like to know how I go about checking my eligibility for these benefits?

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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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