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Case Brief

Rodman v. New Mexico Security Department

764 P.2d 1316 (N.M. 1988).

Facts: Rodman had been employed by Presbyterian Hospital as a unit secretary for nearly eight years when, on February 17, 1987, she was terminated under hospital personnel policies following a "third corrective action" notice. Prior restrictions had been placed on Rodman's conduct due to personal problems adversely impacting upon her place of work.

Issue: whether the misconduct which warranted termination from employment rose to the level of misconduct which would warrant denial of unemployment compensation under NMSA 1978, Section 51-1-7 of the Unemployment Compensation Law, NMSA 1978, Sections 51-1-1 to 51-1-54 (Repl.Pamp. 1987).

Rule: New Mexico provides that an employee who is determined to have been discharged for "misconduct" is ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits. § 51-1-7(B) Two purposes are served by this statutory bar: first, it prevents the dissipation of funds for other workers; second, it denies benefits to those who bring about their own unemployment by conducting themselves with such callousness, and deliberate or wanton misbehavior that they have given up any reasonable expectation of receiving unemployment benefits. Given the remedial purpose of the statute, and the rule of statutory construction that its provisions are to be interpreted liberally, the statutory term "misconduct" should not be given too broad a definition. Accordingly, in adopting the majority definition of the term, this Court wrote in Mitchell v. Lovington Good Samaritan Center, Inc., 89 N.M. 575, 577, 555 P.2d 696, 698 (1976). This Court recognized in Alonzo v. New Mexico Employment Security Department, 101 N.M. 770, 689 P.2d 286 (1984), that even an act of willful disobedience which leads to termination will not always rise to the level of "misconduct" when the act is...

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