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

Subject: City of Stevens Point v. LIRC and Michael Schmidmayr, Case 10-CV-363 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Portage Co., February 28, 2011)

Digest Codes: ET 481 - School year employee, school year employment

The employee was a bus driver for the City of Stevens Point. He drove some routes that served the University area. The issue was whether he was a "school year employee"; LIRC"s decision found that he was not.

Held: Affirmed. "The Wisconsin Legislature has charged the Commission with administering the unemployment insurance statutes. It has a long history of applying and interpreting the 'reasonable assurance' provisions of those statutes, and it has repeatedly applied the definition of 'school year employee'. Accordingly, its decision in that regard are entitled to the great weight deference standard."

"The City has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the bus driver in question was a "school year employee". Bus drivers for the City provide services in other than instructional, research or administrative capacities. That fact dictates a narrower reading of the 'school year employee' definition. The Commission's conclusion that the bus driver's services were not directly inter-related with the educational goals of the University to qualify him as a 'school year employee' was reasonable. The facts in this matter demonstrate that he regularly drove routes other than University bus routes, and that he regularly bid on such routes in competition with other drivers. His lack of seniority resulted in his placement on the University route which provided fewer hours and less pay. The happenstance that his bidding left him without employment occasionally should not be used to deny his unemployment benefits. The City contract with the bus drivers union also obligated him to drive other routes under certain circumstances including those periods between University route operations."

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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