Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance

Subject: Air Systems Heating & Cooling, Inc. (Hrg. No. 96002424JV) v. LIRC and Ross M. Bilello, Case 96 CV 00603 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Walworth Co., June 17, 1997)

Digest Codes:  MC 657

Employe was owner of a heating & cooling business which he sold. The new owners then hired him as president of the business. Four months later he was fired, allegedly for a number of shortcomings including not following up on contacts with customers, not making an appointment to meet with an important client, misusing the company gas card for personal use, and falsifying inventory. Employe denied the allegations and asserted that he was fired because the new owners wanted to avoid paying him part of the purchase price for the business which was still due. LIRC found that the employe was fired as part of a business decision by the employer, not for misconduct.

Held: Affirmed. Although the business purchase contract was not offered as an exhibit, there was adequate evidence on the terms of the business purchase arrangement and on the reasons for the discharge to support LIRC’s findings. The employe explained his efforts to follow up on customers, and the sole evidence that he had not done so was hearsay which therefore could not serve as a basis for such a finding. The minor personal uses of the gas card were not grave enough to warrant discipline, let alone discharge, and other factors also supported the decision that there was no misconduct in that respect. The inventory issues related to actions the claimant took as owner in negotiating the sale, not as an employe, and therefore they are not within the scope of employe misconduct. Court gives great weight deference to LIRC’s decision on whether the facts established misconduct.

Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.

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