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Supreme Court upholds unemployment insurance decision

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The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld an Indiana Department of Workforce Development decision denying a woman her claim for unemployment insurance benefits after she was terminated for being unable to perform the required skills of her job.

In Diane Recker v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, and FedEx Trade Networks, No. 93S02-1105-EX-285, the court considered a case involving Diane Recker who worked for FedEx Trade Networks and was required to pass all necessary training in order to take the position. She was repeatedly unable to complete a portion of the training program’s driving test requiring her to back up on a serpentine course and into a parking space. She had to fly to Oklahoma for that test, and on the flight there her ears became “clogged” in a way she believed impacted her ability to successfully complete the test. After she failed to pass the test, FedEx gave Recker the option to resign immediately or take a 30-day unpaid leave of absence. She resigned immediately and sought unemployment insurance benefits but was denied because she voluntarily left her job and did so without good cause. On appeal, an administrative law judge determined that she did not leave voluntarily but wasn’t entitled to benefits because she breached a duty owed to her employer and that justified her termination.

The unanimous court upheld the board’s decision that she was reasonably discharged because of the breach of duty. Using its rationale from Giovanoni v. Review Bd. of Ind. Dept of Workforce Dev., 927 N.E.2d 906, 908-12 (Ind. 2010), the court determined she had “some control” in performing the driving test, and the board didn’t find her clogged-ear defense was significant enough. This wasn’t a demonstrable impediment, and it was reasonable for the board to find that Recker was discharged for just cause and ineligible for benefits, the court ruled.

A footnote in the opinion delves into another topic that has been an issue before the state’s appellate courts – confidential names of parties being used in case names. The court of appeals has disagreed on that issue, and in a lengthy footnote Justice Brent Dickson wrote that information is to be excluded from public access only when requested by a party or person affected by the release of information. That didn’t happen here, so Recker’s name can be used in the appellate court documents.

 

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  1. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in December, but U.S. District Judge Robert Miller later reduced that to about $540,000 to put the damages for suffering under the statutory cap of $300,000.

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