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Briefs

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Words 1976
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Three Briefs

Helen Mayes
Kaplan University
PA205: Introduction to Legal Analysis and Writing
June 26, 2012

Citation-
Mitchell v. Lovington Good Samaritan Center, Inc. 555 P.2d 696 (N.M. 1976)
Facts-
1. Plaintiff (Mrs. Mitchell) was terminated from her job at Lovington good Samaritan Center, Inc., due to alleged misconduct. Plaintiff then filed for unemployment compensation benefits. Due to the finding from the deputy of the Unemployment Security Commission Mrs. Mitchell was denied benefits for seven weeks. Plaintiff appealed the decision and was granted her money. The Unemployment center appealed that ruling and the first ruling went back into effect. Mrs. Mitchell appealed that ruling applied for and was granted certiorari from the decision. The Plaintiff’s money was reinstated to her by the District Court. 2. Mrs. Mitchell was terminated from her job on June 4, 1974. On April 2 and April 3, 1974, Plaintiff went to work out of uniform. The first day she was told to go home and change she refused to do so, however, on the second day she did as she was told. Then on May 15, 1974, the plaintiff was singing while working, it was reported as unethical and time- consuming. Another incident happened on May 24, 1974. Mrs. Mitchell was told to change from medications to the floor routine. She was told why she was being switched but she was not co-operative. From that day unit June 4, 1974 Mrs. Mitchell refused to do her job. On June 4, 1974 Mrs. Mitchell went to work on time, and started filling out her time card. She filled it out for the whole hour shift. When a supervisor asked her about it she told him she was planning on working all 8 hours. He said something else and she became defensive. Another supervisor intervened, and a fight soon started. They took it to an office; apologies were given but tempers flared again. The supervisor then terminated Mrs. Mitchell, with her day pay as well as a week vacation pay and another weeks pay.

Issues- 1. Whether Petitioner’s actions constituted misconduct so as to disqualify her from certain unemployment compensation benefits. 2. Whether Mrs. Mitchell’s actions constituted misconduct under s 59-9-5(b), N.M.S.A. 1953.
Rule-
The term ‘misconduct’ is not defined in the Unemployment Compensation Law. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in Boynton Cab Co. v. Neubeck, 237 Wis. 249, 259-60, 296 N.W. 636, 640 (1941) examined the misconduct subsection of its unemployment compensation act, found no statutory definition of misconduct, and formulated the following definition:
. . . ‘misconduct’ . . . is limited to conduct evincing such wilful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligations to his employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary negligence in isolated instances, or good faith errors in judgment or discretion are not to be deemed ‘misconduct’ within the meaning of the statute. Analysis- Applying the definition of misconduct to the facts of the case, the court found that Mrs. Mitchell’s acts constituted misconduct. Appellee’s argument that the “last straw” Doctrine should not be used is hereby rejected.
Conclusion-
The district court is reversed and the decision of the Commission is reinstated.

Citation- Rodman v. New Mexico Employment Security Department, 764 P.2d 1316, (N.M., 1988).

Facts- Appellant, (Rodman), was employed by Presbyterian Hospital as a secretary for nearly eight years. On February 17, 1987 she was terminated under hospital personnel police following a third corrective action notice. Rodman had been having many calls and visitations from people while she was at work and on the clock. It was disrupting to patients as well as other employee’s. Her boss informed her not to take any more calls and no one was allowed on the unit. On February 15, 1987, Rodman went to work, but beforehand she called her boyfriend’s mother and told her not to let him have her car keys. While at work the mother called and told her that said boyfriend had her keys, she told the mother to have boyfriend call her at work. He called, and she informed him she could not talk to her as she was at her station, he hung up. He called back with a number for her to reach him. She left and went to the break room and called him. When she returned to her station he called and told her to meet him down stairs, at first she said no, but he said he would come to her. She called security as she was told to do by her boss, and then went down stairs. There was a fight and she ended up in the car, and her boyfriend drove off. Thirty five minutes later she returned to work, but more phone calls came in. The supervisor was frustrated and sent Rodman home. After that she was terminated.
Issue-
An administrative decision of the New Mexico Employment Security Department denying unemployment compensation to Billie J. Rodman was reviewed on certiorari by the district court. Rodman now appeals to this Court from the order of the district court affirming the administrative decision.
Rule-
The Tribunal of the Department of Employment Security found that Rodman was unwilling to restrict her personal contacts while at work as her employer requested. The hearing officer concluded that Mr. Rodman’s Behavior was unreasonable, had caused many problems for her work section, and constituted misconduct connected with work under Section 51-1-7B.
Analysis-
Rodman recognizes the “last straw” doctrine, but contends that the district court erred in applying the rule in this case because her infractions of February 15 were the result of acts of third parties over whom she had no physical or legal control. Appellant contends that she may not be denied unemployment benefits where the “last straw” which led to her termination was not willful or intentional, especially where, under the employer’s personnel policy, she could not have been discharged at all before this final incident.
The Department contends that it is irrelevant whether the act was a willful or intentional violation to the employer’s rules. The records show that the claimant had a history of previous acts that show a willful or wanton disregard for the employer’s interests and the employer discharged the employee for the accumulation of events. The courts concluded that there was a substantial basis for the district court to decide that Rodman’s actions on the 15th was considered in light of restriction she had placed upon her form previous failures to comply with restrictions form her employer.

Conclusion-
The decision of the district court is affirmed.

-

Citation-
It’s Burger Time, Inc. v. New Mexico Department of Labor Employment Security Department, Board of Review and Lucy Apodaca, 769 P.2d 88, (N.M., 1989).
Facts-
Apodaca worked for its Burger Time, she asked her manager what the owner would do if she dyed her hair Purple. The Manger didn’t think she was serious. She then asked him to ask the owner, he never did. Weeks later Apodaca dyed her hair Purple and the owner of It’s Burger Time saw it. He told the manager to give her a week to decide whether to keep her job or her hair. She kept her hair and was terminated. She applied for unemployment compensation. As the employer could not show why she was justly terminated, she received benefits. The employer is now trying to appeal that decision.
Issue-
At issue in this case is whether an employee who refuses to alter her personal appearance in conformity with the employer’s personal beliefs about acceptable community standards has engaged in misconduct.
Rule-
In Alonzo v. New Mexico Employment Security Department, 101 N.M. 770, 772, 689 P.2d 286, 288 (1984), we recognized that termination for an isolated incident which does not “significantly affect [ ] the employer’s business” may not form the basis for denial of benefits on the grounds of misconduct. In Alonzo, an employee was terminated after refusing to wear a smock when working at the cash register as required by company policy. Id. at 771, 689 P.2d at 287. As here, the employee’s previous work history was completely satisfactory, and there was no evidence that the employer’s business interests had been affected. Alonzo should be compared with Trujillo v. Employment Security Department, 105 N.M. 467, 471–72, 734 P.2d 245, 249–50 (Ct.App.1987), which held that failure to report for overtime work pursuant to an employment contract provision allowing the employer to draft employees in emergency situations constituted misconduct, when the evidence demonstrated that the orders directing employees to report early to work were explicit and not confusing. In Trujillo, unlike Alonzo, failure to comply with the employer’s request was recognized as having significantly affected the employer’s interest. See also Thornton v. Dep’t of Human Resources Dev., 32 Cal.App.3d 180, 107 Cal.Rptr. 892 (1973) (refusal of restaurant employee to shave beard immediately or be terminated was not misconduct when employer failed to show that beard was unsanitary or otherwise detrimental to business); cf. Lattanzio v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Rev., 461 Pa. 392, 336 A.2d 595 (1975) (claimant’s refusal to report back to work was for good cause when employer demanded he shave beard but no evidence supported contention that requested alteration in appearance was essential to performance of duties other than employer’s vague assertion that claimant’s “modish” appearance might reflect unfavorably on business).

Analysis- In Alonzo v. New Mexico Employment Security Department, 101 N.M. 770, 772, 689 P.2d 286, 288 (1984), we recognized that termination for an isolated incident which does not “significantly affect [ ] the employer’s business” may not form the basis for denial of benefits on the grounds of misconduct. In Alonzo, an employee was terminated after refusing to wear a smock when working at the cash register as required by company policy. Id. at 771, 689 P.2d at 287. As here, the employee’s previous work history was completely satisfactory, and there was no evidence that the employer’s business interests had been affected. Alonzo should be compared with Trujillo v. Employment Security Department, 105 N.M. 467, 471–72, 734 P.2d 245, 249–50 (Ct.App.1987), which held that failure to report for overtime work pursuant to an employment contract provision allowing the employer to draft employees in emergency situations constituted misconduct, when the evidence demonstrated that the orders directing employees to report early to work were explicit and not confusing. In Trujillo, unlike Alonzo, failure to comply with the employer’s request was recognized as having significantly affected the employer’s interest. See also Thornton v. Dep’t of Human Resources Dev., 32 Cal.App.3d 180, 107 Cal.Rptr. 892 (1973) (refusal of restaurant employee to shave beard immediately or be terminated was not misconduct when employer failed to show that beard was unsanitary or otherwise detrimental to business); cf. Lattanzio v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Rev., 461 Pa. 392, 336 A.2d 595 (1975) (claimant’s refusal to report back to work was for good cause when employer demanded he shave beard but no evidence supported contention that requested alteration in appearance was essential to performance of duties other than employer’s vague assertion that claimant’s “modish” appearance might reflect unfavorably on business).

Conclusion-
The decision of the trial court is reversed, and this case is remanded for entry of judgment consistent with the decision of the Board of Review.

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