Injured worker’s unemployment benefits correctly denied, COA rules

A man who lost his job twice after being injured at work could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday that he was wrongly denied unemployment benefits.

Not long after M.A. was injured during his employment with Coca-Cola Co., he lost his job and was subsequently approved for unemployment benefits in July 2018. He also received worker’s compensation benefits following surgery for the injury and until he was rehired in March 2019.

When M.A. was again fired a few months after his rehire, he filed for unemployment a second time in September 2019 but was denied benefits. In that instance, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development found that M.A. had insufficient wage credits during the applicable base period to support his claim under the relevant Indiana statutes.

M.A. appealed but the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the department’s review board did not err in its decision.

First, the appellate court noted that in his brief on appeal, M.A. made no argument that the state’s interpretation of Indiana Code § 22-4-11-1 was “inconsistent with the statute itself.”

“And, other than his bare assertion that nothing prohibits the use of the same base period twice, he does not otherwise challenge the State’s interpretation of the statute. Thus, M.A. has not satisfied his burden on appeal to show that the trial court erred when it affirmed the Board’s decision denying M.A.’s unemployment benefits,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the appellate panel.

“In sum, because M.A. received workers’ compensation benefits during the ‘regular’ base period applicable to his September 2019 application for benefits, the ‘alternate’ base period under Indiana Code Section 22-4-2-12.5 applied,” Najam concluded. “However, the ‘alternate’ base period had already been used to support a prior application for benefits, and, under the facts presented here, the same base period cannot be used twice.”

The case is M.A. v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development20A-EX-160.

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