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

Subject: Christine L. Aski v. LIRC and Sun Country Airlines, Case 05CV000655 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee Co., August 15, 2005)

Digest Codes: BR 335.04

When the employee exhausted her combined Wisconsin and Minnesota benefit claim in week 33 of 2003, the department sent the employee a Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation Computation form TEUC-707, alerting the employee of her potential TEUC eligibility. The form also notified the employee that potentially eligible displaced workers were not eligible for benefits under the unemployment insurance program of any other state or the federal government and that if a worker worked in a state other than Wisconsin during the past 18 months, the worker was to contact the department. The employee had worked in Minnesota within 18 months of the date of the issuance of this form but never notified the department of this other employment. Consequently, the employee began receiving TEUC for weeks 34 through 37 of 2003. The employee denies receiving this TEUC computation form.

In September of 2003, the department mailed the employee a TEUC-A form, specifically relating to displaced airline workers, setting forth the amount of temporary extended benefits available to the employee. Again the form notified the employee that she was not eligible for benefits under the unemployment insurance program of any other state or the federal government. The employee could not recall if she received this TEUC-A form. Throughout this time period, the employee filed for benefits from the state of Minnesota beginning in week 34 of 2003 through 48 of 2003. However, because of this Minnesota employment within the past 18 months, the employee was not an “exhaustee” within the meaning of this federally extended unemployment compensation act and therefore ineligible for TEUC and TEUC-A during the weeks she collected TEUC and TEUC-A.

The only issue the employee contested in her brief was whether recovery of the erroneously received TEUC benefits could be waived within the meaning of Wis. Stat. 108.022(8)(c). Reversing the appeal tribunal decision which permitted waiver of the recovery of the overpayment, the commission found that while the overpayment was not the fault of the employee, the overpayment was also not the result of departmental error. The commission reasoned that although the employee denied receiving the form TEUC-707, the fact remains the department mailed the forms to the employee. The commission concluded that even if the employee did not receive the TEUC-707 form, the employee’s receipt of TEUC benefits beginning in week 34 of 2003 was due to the fact the department was not alerted to the employee’s work in Minnesota at the time the department began paying the employee TEUC benefits. Had the department been so alerted, the employee would not have been sent TEUC computation forms and would not have received TEUC benefits.

Held: The circuit court affirmed the commission’s decision affording it great weight deference. The circuit court concluded that the “department did nothing inappropriate” and that the commission correctly concluded that had the department been informed of the employee’s Minnesota employment, TEUC payments would never have been made to the employee. The court held that the commission’s interpretation of Wis. Stat. 108.22(8)(c) that there was no departmental error was reasonable and not contrary to the clear meaning of the statute.

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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