On August 3, 2012, the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) issued a decision finding a former employee of Stoughton Trailers eligible for unemployment insurance benefits and reversing an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision that the employee was discharged for misconduct connected with his employment. Attorney Danielle Schroder represented the employee in a two-day hearing on the matter, and she filed his petition for review.

On the day of his termination, the employee, an industrial painter, refused to spray parts in a spray booth in accordance with his supervisor’s instruction because he did not have a functioning respirator. Instead, the employee worked at a blow off station preparing parts. Despite previously having disciplined the employee for failing to wear proper protective equipment, Stoughton Trailers terminated the painter’s employment for failing to follow his supervisor’s instructions.

LIRC determined that the employee had a defensible reason for refusing to do work. Further, the employer’s testimony was not credible. LIRC stated, “Stoughton Trailers’ contention that the employee did not need a respirator to perform his assigned duties . . . [was] ‘disingenuous.’” Twice previously, the employee had been disciplined for failing to properly protect himself in the workplace and had been warned that he was subject to discharge for any further offense.

Since Stoughton Trailers’ directive—to spray parts without a respirator—was unreasonable, and the employee had a defensible reason for refusing to do as directed, the discharge was not the result of “misconduct,” as that term is defined by law. Thus, the employee is eligible for unemployment benefits. The full decision may be found here. If you have been denied your claim for unemployment benefits, please contact Hawks Quindel for a free consultation with an experienced employment attorney.

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