In these tough economic times, some companies are fighting unemployment claims. Particularly ones involving employees they have let go for reasons other than a contraction of the business.
Fidelis Akonu was a realtor at Wells Fargo, and he lost his job due to an excessive number of late appearances at work. Akonu was initially given unemployment benefits, but Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit to overturn the decision. According to Leagle.com, Wells Fargo won the case:
By writ of certiorari, relator challenges the decision of an unemployment-law judge that he was discharged for employment misconduct, that he was therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits, and that he must repay unemployment benefits he received to which he was not entitled. Because the ULJ’s findings are supported by substantial evidence and the ULJ correctly applied the law, we affirm.
According to the court papers, here are the facts of the case:
Relator Fidelis Akonu was employed as a work director by respondent Wells Fargo Bank from May 1, 2006, to April 20, 2009. Akonu, who was repeatedly late for work, was given a written warning in October 2008 in the form of a performance-improvement plan and a final written warning based on his tardiness in December 2008. Between January and April 20, 2009, Akonu had nine unexcused late arrivals at work, leading to his discharge for excessive tardiness.
Akonu applied for unemployment benefits, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) issued a determination of eligibility. Wells Fargo appealed, and, after a hearing, the ULJ ruled that Akonu had been discharged for misconduct based on excessive tardiness, that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits, and that he had been overpaid $3,808 in unemployment benefits. The ULJ affirmed on reconsideration, and Akonu brought this certiorari appeal.
According to Minnesota Law, An employee who is discharged for misconduct is not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2008). Employment misconduct is defined as any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job (1) that displays clearly a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee, or (2) that displays clearly a substantial lack of concern for the employment.
The statute goes on to say that misconduct does not include absences due to illness or injury with proper notice to the employer. Wells Fargo claimed Akonu was late to the office a number of times, often without notifying his supervisor.