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, Robert D. Vasquez, and FedEx SmartPost, Inc., Case 14-CV-9013 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Milwaukee Cnty. Mar. 16, 2015)

Digest Codes: BR 330 – Concealment of material facts by claimant; forfeiture for

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) brought a lawsuit against the commission challenging the commission’s findings that the claimant, Robert Vasquez, did not conceal work and wages when filing benefit claims in 2013. The commission found that the claimant did not intentionally provide incorrect information to the department in order to receive benefits to which he knew he was not entitled. Any mistakes made by the claimant were honest mistakes without an intent to conceal information or defraud the department. The claimant was required to repay benefits he received to which he was not entitled, but he was not required to pay additional concealment penalties or to forgo future benefits.

The department appealed the commission’s decision to circuit court.

Held: Affirmed. The circuit court concluded that the commission based its decision that the claimant did not conceal information from the department on substantial and credible evidence in the record. It agreed with the commission that the claimant made an honest mistake and did not intend to defraud or mislead the department. The court did not address DWD’s argument that the commission augmented the statutory definition of conceal, Wis. Stat. § 108.04(11)(g), because whether or not the commission properly, or improperly, did so was irrelevant. DWD noted that its own interpretation of concealment does not penalize claimants who mislead the department due to honest mistakes, and the commission concluded in this case that “Vasquez’s mistakes were honest mistakes, devoid of any and all intent.”

The department did not appeal the circuit court’s decision to the court of appeals. 

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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