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

Subject: Mark O. Waedekin v. Dept. Health and Family Services and LIRC, Case 98-CV-159 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Fond du Lac Co., April 19, 1999)

Digest Codes: MC 676

Digest Summary: The employe, a night-shift psychiatric care technician in a correctional facility, was suspended for 5 weeks after an inmate who was supposed to have been in his room was found one morning inside a shower room which was always locked overnight. The employe insisted that the inmate had been in his room most of the night, at the times when the employe had made the room checks and indicated that the inmate was in his room, and that the inmate must have somehow gotten a key to the shower, sneaked out of his room in the early morning, and locked himself in the shower. The employer suspended the employe because it believed that the inmate had been locked inside the shower on the previous evening and the employe had negligently failed to observe, during his checks that night, that the inmate was not actually in his room. The department's investigator, the Appeal Tribunal, and LIRC, all held that the employe had been suspended for good cause connected with his employment within the meaning of Wis. Stat. 108.04(6). The employe appealed, continuing to argue that the facts were other than as found by the agency and that the inmate had been in his room most of the night and had sneaked into the shower in the morning. He also argued that he was improperly denied the opportunity at hearing to offer evidence concerning how his employer conducted its investigation of the incident.

Held: Affirmed. Questions of fact were presented and the findings are conclusive where supported by substantial and credible evidence in the record. The findings are supported here. The inference that the inmate had been locked in the shower all night was a reasonable one on these facts. The employe conceded that employes became used to things being quiet and routine late at night and that he sometimes marked inmates as present before he actually checked their rooms. The question of how the investigation was conducted after the fact, was not relevant to the question of whether the employe's conduct, which led to his suspension, constituted "good cause" for a disciplinary suspension.

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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