By Dawn Gibson
A company discharged its employee for being away from her assigned workstation for an extended amount of time. She filed for unemployment benefits. The state said the claimant did not qualify for benefits because she was discharged for misconduct. She disagreed with that decision and appealed. An administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing.
The employer testified that the claimant, who worked the overnight shift, was not in her assigned work area when her team leader went to reassign the claimant to work in another area. The claimant was not on a scheduled break and should have been in the work area with the rest of her team. The claimant’s supervisor had the claimant repeatedly paged. They also searched the employer’s premises for the claimant from 3 a.m. until 5:45 a.m. The supervisor located the claimant at 5:45 a.m. in the employee locker room. She was found lounging in a chair in a reclining position with a towel covering her face. The supervisor did not say anything to the claimant at the time, but reported the incident to Human Resources. During the course of the claimant’s employment the employer had given the claimant multiple warnings and suspended her for attendance, avoiding her job duties and leaving her work area without permission. The claimant was given the employer’s policies at the time of hire. The employer determined the claimant was away from her work station and sleeping on the job from 3 a.m. to 5:45 a.m, and discharged the claimant.
The claimant testified she heard one of the pages, but did not respond because she was on her break. The claimant denied she was not in her assigned work area from 3 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. She testified she was away from her work station from 4 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. because she was cleaning up a spill. She was not aware that her supervisor was looking for her. The claimant further testified that she saw her supervisor enter the locker room. However, she did not say anything because she was on her scheduled 15-minute break and she was resting. The claimant admitted that she was lounging on a chair and had her eyes closed.
The ALJ found:
The employer appealed, arguing:
The Board of Review (Board) disagreed with the ALJ’s decision and reversed. They stated:
Please remember: Unemployment laws vary from state to state. The result in this case might be different from a case in your state. Also, always consult with your own legal counsel and advisors concerning your specific situation.