Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance
Subject: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development vs. Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission, Eric W. Van De Loo, and Bemis Mfg. Co., Case 14-CV-547 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Sheboygan Co., May 22, 2015)
Digest Codes: BR 330 – PC 749
The claimant was claiming benefits while working part time and enrolled in approved training. For the weeks at issue, he answered “No” to the claim question concerning working. He subsequently asserted that, based on a conversation he had with a claims specialist about his approved training, he had mistakenly believed that he did not need to report his part time work while he was a student in approved training.
DWD determined he had engaged in concealment, and on appeal, an ALJ affirmed. On petition for review, LIRC’s decision reversed, finding that the claimant made an honest mistake and did not intend to mislead or cheat the Department. DWD appealed to Circuit Court.
Held: LIRC’s decision is AFFIRMED. LIRC’s decision is supported by credible and substantial evidence. The finding that the claimant made an honest mistake is supported by his testimony. LIRC’s credibility assessment was reasonable. Van de Loo was a first time claimant, working part time and attending school full time. The work report procedures involved a confusing compound question that could have been misunderstood by someone unfamiliar with the UI system.
The court agrees that all four conditions for “great weight” deference are present. While DWD argues that LIRC augmented the definition of “conceal” by an interpretation that concealment requires an intent to receive benefits to which the claimant knows they are not entitled, LIRC appropriately points out that it did not rule in Van de Loo’s favor because it found he did not have an intent to receive benefits to which he was not entitled; rather, it ruled in his favor because it concluded he made an honest mistake and didn’t intend to mislead or cheat the Department.
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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