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Proving Willful Misconduct in UC Cases: Specificity Required!

In the recent matter of Lewis v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 42 A.3d 375, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has reinforced the standard of proof necessary to render an unemployment compensation claimant ineligible for benefits.

 

The claimant in Lewis (hereinafter “Claimant”), allegedly got into an argument with a co-worker which became loud and each made claims of superior toughness to the other. Claimant was suspended for his behavior and later terminated. It is notable that despite the apparent loud nature of the argument described above, there were no customers present and the employer was closed for the night. Additionally, Claimant never made any threats or used profanity or offensive language, and testified to getting “loud” in retaliation to his co-worker’s raised voice.

 

The Unemployment Compensation Service Center, Referee, and Board of Review all found Claimant to have willfully violated the employer’s work rules to cause his own termination and, therefore, was found to be ineligible for benefits; the Commonwealth Court disagreed.

 

At the Referee’s Hearing, the employer brought only one witness who testified that the employer has rules and regulations and a harassment policy which Claimant allegedly violated which led to his termination. Claimant also provided testimony at the hearing to supplement the two written statements he made to his employer beforehand.

 

In reviewing the case, the Court noted that an employee’s willful misconduct is behavior which is a wanton and willful disregard for the employer’s interests, a deliberate violation of the employer’s rules and/or behavior the employer can reasonably expect, or behavior so negligent it manifests a certain culpability on the part of the employee. The burden to prove the above is on the employer, as well as the burden to prove that a claimant knew (or should have known) of the work rule at issue. If the employer can prove the above, a claimant must then prove a justifiable reason to have broken the rules in order to be eligible for benefits.

 

When comparing the evidence present at the Referee’s hearing (i.e.: the one employer witness and Claimant’s testimony and statements described above), the Court found that the employer never once identified any rule or policy actually broken by Claimant, or provided documentary evidence of the existence of the policy. Furthermore, there was no evidence, or even finding from the Board of Review, that Claimant even knew of the applicable (if any) rules of the employer.

 

Therefore, due to the complete absence of any evidence or proof that Claimant knew of a work rule, and subsequently willfully broke it, the employer simply did not meet its burden of proof, rendering Claimant eligible for benefits.

 

May this case serve as a reminder to employers: no matter how simple a case appears, or “informal” an unemployment compensation referee’s hearing seems, the burden of proving a claimant’s ineligibility lies on the employer, and it is a burden the Court takes seriously.

Originally published in Upon Further Review on February 28, 2013 which you can see here.

The Effect of Retiring on Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The matter of Krushauskas v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, 56 A.3d 64 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2012), involved a claimant who suffered a work-related injury while working as a stock picker for General Motors. Claimant Thomas Krushauskas filed a penalty petition against GM alleging it unilaterally suspended his benefits without any additional agreement or order. Simultaneously, Krushauskas voluntarily entered GM’s attrition plan and accepted early retirement. The court noted that no one was forced into the attrition plan and, in fact, Krushauskas had 45 days to revoke the decision to enter it. Krushauskas argued that he did not intend to retire and was simply taking advantage of the plan offered.

The court ruled that GM violated the Workers’ Compensation Act when it unilaterally – without agreement or court order as a result of Krushauskas’s retirement – suspended Krushauskas’ benefits because of him retiring per his entrance into the attrition plan. Generally, an employer is supposed to file a petition specifically requesting the relief sought. Despite this, the court noted that it has never required unreasonable strictness in workers’ compensation pleadings. Unfortunately for Krushauskas, because the court also ruled that he did, indeed, retire, the unilateral suspension did not cause any loss in workers’ compensation benefits owed to him.

The court’s ruling that Krushauskas did retire, contrary to his argument that he did not actually intend to do so, was based on a credibility determination of Krushauskas’ testimony. As stated above, Krushauskas’ representations in the documentation for the attrition plan indicated retirement and the court found those representations likely to be true.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the court’s ruling is that it clarified and consolidated previous rulings that a workers’ compensation judge has the authority to suspend/terminate a claimant’s benefits without a formal petition from the employer as long as doing so would not be prejudicial to the claimant. A claimant having an opportunity to defend him or herself, and/or having adequate notice, would tend toward the matter lacking prejudice against the claimant even if the workers’ compensation procedures were not followed with precision.

The court noted, based on the facts presented, that Krushauskas certainly had sufficient notice and knew a suspension of benefits was possible. Indeed, the court drew significance from the fact that when GM argued that Krushauskas voluntarily retired, he objected on the basis of relevance, and not surprise, which would have been the objection if he did not have sufficient notice. Furthermore, Krushauskas never attempted to submit additional evidence to oppose the argument that he voluntarily retired.

The court further indicated that where someone accepts a retirement pension, as Krushauskas did here, then the employer is entitled to a suspension of benefits. Benefits will be suspended unless the claimant can show that he is seeking employment or he was forced into retirement because of a work-related injury. In the instant case, Krushauskas clearly accepted a retirement pension and never testified to seeking new or continued employment.

When collecting workers’ compensation, be sure to consider all implications before accepting a retirement plan or pension, as the workers’ compensation benefits may be terminated long before expected.

Originally published on February 1, 2013 in The Legal Intelligencer Blog and can be found here.

Is It A-OK Withdrawing From a 401(k) for UC?

A question was recently posed to me asking whether a withdrawal from a 401(k) would cause one’s unemployment compensation benefits to be denied, be diminished or even cease if already in payment. The answer to this inquiry is not totally clear.

43 Pa.C.S.A. 804(d)(2)(i) states: “Periodic payment, under a plan maintained or contributed to by a base period or chargeable employer, the weekly benefit amount payable to such individual for such week shall be reduced, but not below zero, by the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension as determined under Subclause (ii)” and 43 Pa.C.S.A. 804(d)(2)(ii) states: “If the pension is entirely contributed to by the employer, then one hundred per centum of the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension shall be deducted. … [I]f the pension is contributed to by the individual, in any amount, then fifty per centum of the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension shall be deducted.”

The obvious questions that arise are, is a 401(k) a pension under the above statutes, and what if someone withdraws funds from their 401(k) before he is of retirement age as one would withdraw funds from a bank account? Answers to these questions are not readily forthcoming from the cases decided under the unemployment compensation law, but need to be parsed from cases dealing with other retirement vehicles (Wise v. Unemployment Compensation 707 A.2dc 627 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1997)).

After a review of the Wise case, it appears that if someone withdraws money from a 401(k) after he has reached an age of 59½, which enables the withdrawal to be made without a penalty, then the statutory guidelines laid out above apply and unemployment compensation benefits are reduced, possibly to zero. If someone is under the age of 59½ and rolls over the funds in his 401(k) into another retirement vehicle/investment in order to avoid the penalty for withdrawal, but does not withdraw any of the funds in it, then the above guidelines laid out do not apply and the unemployment compensation claimant can receive benefits without the statutory reduction in the same. Indeed, the Wise court opined that a roll over is not actual receipt of the funds and the claimant ought not be penalized with a reduction of unemployment benefits.

Unfortunately, courts generally have not directly addressed a situation in which someone who is under 59½ withdraws all of his funds from his 401(k), and pays the 10 percent penalty required for so. The court appears to imply that it does not believe it is just, or consistent with legislative intent, to make someone pay a penalty on the withdrawal and also be subject to a reduction of unemployment compensation benefits per the above statutory guidelines, as that would amount to a double penalty; however, the court did not rule on this scenario.

One question that the court does not appear to have addressed at all is if a claimant withdraws all funds from a 401(k) (with penalty) under the age of 59½, which could lead to a reduction of unemployment compensation benefits, does it matter if the contributions were made solely by the claimant, were made solely by the employer or the contributions came from both sources. If the 401(k) is comprised entirely of a claimant’s own contributions, would not those assets be his own as if he had contributed to a bank account, which would not affect benefits at all under normal circumstances? Are an employer’s contributions somehow different?

Per the Wise court’s dicta, one could reach the conclusion that one can withdraw all funds from a 401(k) under the age of 59½, pay the penalty for doing so, and still be eligible for the full unemployment compensation benefit amount. In saying that, however, due to government budget constraints and current economic conditions, the Department of Labor (and sometimes the courts) has been trending toward finding and justifying reasons to reduce or eliminate unemployment compensation benefits. Indeed, even if a claimant would be ultimately successful using the arguments laid out above, I would not at all be surprised if the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, taking advantage of the ambiguity described above, would rule an under-59½ year old claimant ineligible due to withdrawing his entire 401(k) and make the claimant appeal the decision and make the above arguments at a referee’s hearing.

Ultimately, I think the odds are that the law will ultimately settle on specifically permitting full benefits to be paid to someone who withdraws all funds from a 401(k) with a penalty while under the age of 59½. I think this is likely because it is consistent with the case law described above and it avoids having to formulate a policy to address a claimant’s own contributions to a 401(k) as distinct from an employer’s contribution. For the practitioner, I think it would be prudent to inform his client of the risks described above, and even if the chances of success are high, to be prepared to have to engage in the hearing process to arrive there.

Originally published on December 21, 2012 in The Legal Intelligencer Blog and can be seen here.

A question was recently posed to me asking whether a withdrawal from a 401(k) would cause one’s unemployment compensation benefits to be denied, be diminished or even cease if already in payment. The answer to this inquiry is not totally clear.

43 Pa.C.S.A. 804(d)(2)(i) states: “Periodic payment, under a plan maintained or contributed to by a base period or chargeable employer, the weekly benefit amount payable to such individual for such week shall be reduced, but not below zero, by the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension as determined under Subclause (ii)” and 43 Pa.C.S.A. 804(d)(2)(ii) states: “If the pension is entirely contributed to by the employer, then one hundred per centum of the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension shall be deducted. … [I]f the pension is contributed to by the individual, in any amount, then fifty per centum of the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension shall be deducted.”

The obvious questions that arise are, is a 401(k) a pension under the above statutes, and what if someone withdraws funds from their 401(k) before he is of retirement age as one would withdraw funds from a bank account? Answers to these questions are not readily forthcoming from the cases decided under the unemployment compensation law, but need to be parsed from cases dealing with other retirement vehicles (Wise v. Unemployment Compensation 707 A.2dc 627 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1997)).

After a review of the Wise case, it appears that if someone withdraws money from a 401(k) after he has reached an age of 59½, which enables the withdrawal to be made without a penalty, then the statutory guidelines laid out above apply and unemployment compensation benefits are reduced, possibly to zero. If someone is under the age of 59½ and rolls over the funds in his 401(k) into another retirement vehicle/investment in order to avoid the penalty for withdrawal, but does not withdraw any of the funds in it, then the above guidelines laid out do not apply and the unemployment compensation claimant can receive benefits without the statutory reduction in the same. Indeed, the Wise court opined that a roll over is not actual receipt of the funds and the claimant ought not be penalized with a reduction of unemployment benefits.

Unfortunately, courts generally have not directly addressed a situation in which someone who is under 59½ withdraws all of his funds from his 401(k), and pays the 10 percent penalty required for so. The court appears to imply that it does not believe it is just, or consistent with legislative intent, to make someone pay a penalty on the withdrawal and also be subject to a reduction of unemployment compensation benefits per the above statutory guidelines, as that would amount to a double penalty; however, the court did not rule on this scenario.

One question that the court does not appear to have addressed at all is if a claimant withdraws all funds from a 401(k) (with penalty) under the age of 59½, which could lead to a reduction of unemployment compensation benefits, does it matter if the contributions were made solely by the claimant, were made solely by the employer or the contributions came from both sources. If the 401(k) is comprised entirely of a claimant’s own contributions, would not those assets be his own as if he had contributed to a bank account, which would not affect benefits at all under normal circumstances? Are an employer’s contributions somehow different?

Per the Wise court’s dicta, one could reach the conclusion that one can withdraw all funds from a 401(k) under the age of 59½, pay the penalty for doing so, and still be eligible for the full unemployment compensation benefit amount. In saying that, however, due to government budget constraints and current economic conditions, the Department of Labor (and sometimes the courts) has been trending toward finding and justifying reasons to reduce or eliminate unemployment compensation benefits. Indeed, even if a claimant would be ultimately successful using the arguments laid out above, I would not at all be surprised if the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, taking advantage of the ambiguity described above, would rule an under-59½ year old claimant ineligible due to withdrawing his entire 401(k) and make the claimant appeal the decision and make the above arguments at a referee’s hearing.

Ultimately, I think the odds are that the law will ultimately settle on specifically permitting full benefits to be paid to someone who withdraws all funds from a 401(k) with a penalty while under the age of 59½. I think this is likely because it is consistent with the case law described above and it avoids having to formulate a policy to address a claimant’s own contributions to a 401(k) as distinct from an employer’s contribution. For the practitioner, I think it would be prudent to inform his client of the risks described above, and even if the chances of success are high, to be prepared to have to engage in the hearing process to arrive there.

– See more at: http://thelegalintelligencer.typepad.com/tli/2012/12/is-it-a-okay-withdrawing-from-a-401k-for-uc-.html#sthash.GsrbUtlX.dpuf

A question was recently posed to me asking whether a withdrawal from a 401(k) would cause one’s unemployment compensation benefits to be denied, be diminished or even cease if already in payment. The answer to this inquiry is not totally clear.

43 Pa.C.S.A. 804(d)(2)(i) states: “Periodic payment, under a plan maintained or contributed to by a base period or chargeable employer, the weekly benefit amount payable to such individual for such week shall be reduced, but not below zero, by the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension as determined under Subclause (ii)” and 43 Pa.C.S.A. 804(d)(2)(ii) states: “If the pension is entirely contributed to by the employer, then one hundred per centum of the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension shall be deducted. … [I]f the pension is contributed to by the individual, in any amount, then fifty per centum of the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension shall be deducted.”

The obvious questions that arise are, is a 401(k) a pension under the above statutes, and what if someone withdraws funds from their 401(k) before he is of retirement age as one would withdraw funds from a bank account? Answers to these questions are not readily forthcoming from the cases decided under the unemployment compensation law, but need to be parsed from cases dealing with other retirement vehicles (Wise v. Unemployment Compensation 707 A.2dc 627 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1997)).

After a review of the Wise case, it appears that if someone withdraws money from a 401(k) after he has reached an age of 59½, which enables the withdrawal to be made without a penalty, then the statutory guidelines laid out above apply and unemployment compensation benefits are reduced, possibly to zero. If someone is under the age of 59½ and rolls over the funds in his 401(k) into another retirement vehicle/investment in order to avoid the penalty for withdrawal, but does not withdraw any of the funds in it, then the above guidelines laid out do not apply and the unemployment compensation claimant can receive benefits without the statutory reduction in the same. Indeed, the Wise court opined that a roll over is not actual receipt of the funds and the claimant ought not be penalized with a reduction of unemployment benefits.

Unfortunately, courts generally have not directly addressed a situation in which someone who is under 59½ withdraws all of his funds from his 401(k), and pays the 10 percent penalty required for so. The court appears to imply that it does not believe it is just, or consistent with legislative intent, to make someone pay a penalty on the withdrawal and also be subject to a reduction of unemployment compensation benefits per the above statutory guidelines, as that would amount to a double penalty; however, the court did not rule on this scenario.

One question that the court does not appear to have addressed at all is if a claimant withdraws all funds from a 401(k) (with penalty) under the age of 59½, which could lead to a reduction of unemployment compensation benefits, does it matter if the contributions were made solely by the claimant, were made solely by the employer or the contributions came from both sources. If the 401(k) is comprised entirely of a claimant’s own contributions, would not those assets be his own as if he had contributed to a bank account, which would not affect benefits at all under normal circumstances? Are an employer’s contributions somehow different?

Per the Wise court’s dicta, one could reach the conclusion that one can withdraw all funds from a 401(k) under the age of 59½, pay the penalty for doing so, and still be eligible for the full unemployment compensation benefit amount. In saying that, however, due to government budget constraints and current economic conditions, the Department of Labor (and sometimes the courts) has been trending toward finding and justifying reasons to reduce or eliminate unemployment compensation benefits. Indeed, even if a claimant would be ultimately successful using the arguments laid out above, I would not at all be surprised if the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, taking advantage of the ambiguity described above, would rule an under-59½ year old claimant ineligible due to withdrawing his entire 401(k) and make the claimant appeal the decision and make the above arguments at a referee’s hearing.

Ultimately, I think the odds are that the law will ultimately settle on specifically permitting full benefits to be paid to someone who withdraws all funds from a 401(k) with a penalty while under the age of 59½. I think this is likely because it is consistent with the case law described above and it avoids having to formulate a policy to address a claimant’s own contributions to a 401(k) as distinct from an employer’s contribution. For the practitioner, I think it would be prudent to inform his client of the risks described above, and even if the chances of success are high, to be prepared to have to engage in the hearing process to arrive there.

– See more at: http://thelegalintelligencer.typepad.com/tli/2012/12/is-it-a-okay-withdrawing-from-a-401k-for-uc-.html#sthash.GsrbUtlX.dpuf

Double Dipping: Unemployment Compensation and Other Benefits

In the episode of the Seinfeld television series called “The Implant,” George is spotted dipping the same potato chip into dip more than once after taking a bite out of it. Annoyed, his girlfriend’s brother, Timmy, approaches him, interrogates him about his “double dip,” and scolds him sharply, saying “just take one dip and end it!” Timmy’s admonition to George may not just apply to those attempting to enjoy a second bite of a dip-covered potato chip, but also to those who collect some other sort of disability benefit while also attempting to collect unemployment compensation (hereinafter “UC”) benefits.

Before moving forward, for the sake of clarity, any references to social security benefits (“SBB”) herein will not refer to the collection of the social security pension benefits (hereinafter “SSPB”) due to one reaching a certain age. There is no conflict between collecting a SSPB and UC at the same time as long as each agency is appraised of the income received from the other.

When comparing UC and SSB, a baseline principle was enunciated by the court when it declared “[u]nemployment compensation is not health insurance and does not cover physically or mentally ill persons during periods they are unemployable.” Carter v. Com, 442 A.2d 1245. In other words, in order to collect UC one must be able and willing to work. However, when applying for SSB, one must allege to the Social Security Administration (hereinafter “SSA”) that s/he is completely disabled as to not be able to work at all to be eligible for benefits. Obviously, a conflict arises between the requirements for UC and SSB: if someone is completely disabled as to render him/her unable to do any work s/he is, by definition, not eligible for UC benefits, although s/he may be eligible for SSB benefits of some sort. In saying that, in practical terms, it is highly doubtful that an employer in a UC matter will request discovery or cross-examine a claimant on the issue of what s/he indicated on an application for SSB benefits. Therefore, many cases may be slipping through the cracks simply because there is incomplete analysis into a claimant’s dealings with the SSA.

Although in the typical case one cannot lawfully collect both UC and SSB simultaneously due to the fact that the requirements for each diametrically conflict, there is an exception where someone can collect both UC and SSB. The exception centers on the definition of “substantial gainful activity” (“SGA”). Under the rules of the SSA, someone can work and receive an income and still be eligible to receive SSB as long as his/her work and income are not SGA due to the claimant’s disability. Much case law has developed over time to determine what SGA exactly is and is not, but at least in terms of income, it is clear. The maximum income one can receive at one’s job before it becomes SGA is determined per the national average wage index, which currently stands at +/-$980/mo. Therefore, by way of example, a person legally determined to be disabled can work part-time at his/her local McDonald’s earning $750/mo. That same person may also be eligible for SSB because s/he makes less than the SGA minimum of $980/mo and can prove s/he has a disability which prevents him/her from being able to do work that qualifies as SGA. If s/he loses his/her McDonald’s job due to no fault of his/her own, and is ready and able to work again at the same or similar job, s/he can apply for and receive UC benefits. S/he may then receive both UC and SSB presuming s/he meets the requirements for UC. As always, s/he will have to inform SSA of his/her UC benefits.

In terms of private disability, one can collect UC and private disability at the same time. Again, UC must be informed of the disability income and the claimant must still be ready and able to work. As with SSB, the possible issue that arises is whether the claimant is disabled. Each private disability insurer has a different definition/standard of what disability is; therefore, not all private disability insurers have definitions/standards for disability that would conflict with the UC definition/standard of being ready and able to work. As with SSB, it is unlikely that an employer in a UC matter would delve into what the claimant indicated on his/her private disability application. However, if UC rules that the claimant’s disability is such that s/he cannot work any job, then s/he will be ineligible for UC benefits. By contrast, if the claimant can work at some sort of job, just not necessarily the same one s/he left, then UC benefits may be awarded absent any other reason for ineligibility.

When it comes to sick leave and/or having to quit a job due to a health reason (physical or mental), a claimant must first inform his/her employer of the condition to allow the employer to make an attempt at an accommodation (as a brief aside, it should be noted that how exactly one goes about informing one’s employer of one’s condition, and who has the right to see the information provided, is a process that is heavily regulated by the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and will not be discussed herein). If the employer refuses to accommodate or cannot sufficiently accommodate, a claimant will be deemed to have been constructively discharged against his/her will and, therefore, eligible for UC if that same claimant can show s/he is still ready and able to work at some other job as long as his/her disability is or can be accommodated. Sometimes an employer can offer sick leave. If the sick leave is paid at normal salary, then UC benefits will be denied as the claimant’s income is stable. If unpaid or paid at less than normal salary, a claimant will only be eligible for benefits only if s/he maintains a relationship with his/her employer and intends to return to work at the end of the leave interval. In addition, Claimant would have to demonstrate s/he was given leave because of a health condition, which essentially constructively discharged him/her from his/her employment. In other words, the leave would have to be the employer’s method of accommodation of the disability which claimant accepts. The leave can be either under FMLA or any other sort of leave offered by employer. At the end of the leave, claimant would have to resume work or show that the accommodation was insufficient. In showing whether the accommodation was insufficient, Claimant must still be ready and able to find alternative employment to be UC eligible. If s/he cannot work any job, UC will deem him/her ineligible as not being ready and able to work. If, while out on leave, the position one expected to re-assume is eliminated, then the claimant will be considered to have been involuntarily discharged, making him/her eligible for UC, presuming s/he is ready and able to work.

In the current precarious economic climate, it is important to know one’s rights relative to what benefits one may be entitled to when unemployed. If one can receive more than one stream of benefits, the opportunity should be pursued. Perhaps Timmy was wrong; maybe one does not have to “end it” after dipping once.

This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on February 8, 2010 which you can see here or on my website here.

The Secret to Unemployment Compensation Defense

I have litigated dozens, if not hundreds, of unemployment compensation cases.  I represent both claimants and employers but I more frequently represent claimants.  I think it is fair to say that claimants are more likely to win an unemployment compensation case against an employer due the nature of the law, but I think employers could increase their chances of success if they just spent a little more time and effort pursuing, preparing, and presenting their cases.

When I represent claimants I object pretty aggressively to the testimony, documentation, and evidence presented by employers mainly because they almost always are, to some degree if not totally, hearsay.  I think my success in representing claimants is due, at least to some degree, in preventing the employer’s evidence from being presented.

Now, I admit that I don’t want to give my opponents any advantages, but I think some very basic things could go a long way for employers.  Employers just do not present sufficient competent evidence to win.  Documentation, as much as is relevant, is always helpful.  When wondering whether to bring something, it is always wiser to bring it and not need it than the opposite.  Unfortunately, much of the documentation brought as evidence contains the statements of people who do not appear at the unemployment compensation hearing and is, therefore, hearsay.

This leads me to the single biggest error made by employers at unemployment compensation hearings, which is their failure to bring witnesses.  If an employer wishes to have documentation with the statements of others introduced into evidence at an unemployment compensation hearing, then the employer must bring the person(s) who made the statements to the hearing to provide testimony as to the statements in the documentation.  Furthermore, if someone is terminated for cause, then a witness to the incident(s) of misconduct giving rise to the termination is critical to win an employer’s case.  Many employers will bring the “boss,” whether that is the C.E.O. or president or manager or what have you, as a witness.  The problem is that the boss is usually too disconnected to have any personal knowledge of the claimant’s alleged misconduct which gave rise to his termination.  Therefore, any testimony from the boss about the misconduct is hearsay.

Another typical mistake is to bring the human relations person to the hearing.  The same problem with the boss applies to the HR person.  While the HR person can certainly introduce documentation in a person’s employee file, this person too is almost always too disconnected from the claimant’s alleged misconduct to have personal knowledge of it; as a result his testimony is hearsay as well.

When it comes down to it, an employer must bring sufficient witnesses who have personal knowledge of the issues at hand to win its case, otherwise employers will consistently be at a disadvantage at unemployment compensation hearings.

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