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

Subject: Jeffrey J. Droessler (Hrg. No.. 93005263DV) v. LIRC and Benton Public School, Case No. 94-CV-037 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Lafayette Co., Oct. 19, 1994)  Wis. Ct. App., District 4, No. 94-3381, February 15, 1996) (unpublished).

Please note that Wis. Stat. 809.23(3) provides that an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals is of no precedential value and for that reason may not be cited in any court in this state as precedent or authority. Summaries of unpublished Court of Appeals decisions are included in this collection as an informational service only, and their use contrary to 809.23(3) is not encouraged.

Digest Codes: ET 481;  PC 713

The employe began work for Benton School District in the 1990-1991 school year. During the 1992-1993 school year he was employed in an 85 percent position working 7 of the 8 school hours each day or 35 hour per week. He was paid $20,254 plus $2,110 for coaching basketball. The school year ended in June 1993.

The employe was offered and accepted a 62.5 percent position by Benton for the 1993-1994 school year. He filed an unemployment benefit claim on June 3, 1993 and began receiving benefits for that week. On July 13, 1993 he applied for a job with an Illinois school located 22 miles from his home. He was offered a full time job plus coaching basketball for a total of $20,470 on July 15, 1993. He refused that job on July 16, 1993. Benton offered the employe a 75 percent position plus coaching basketball for $20,862.50 on August 3, 1993. He accepted that offer.

At the hearing the employe argued that the Illinois job offer was not reasonably similar because it was contrary to the protection of labor standards provisions of Wis. Stat. 108.04(9). The administrative law judge refused to allow testimony on the labor standards issue because it was not noticed. The employe had an expert witness at the hearing but no offer of proof was made.

The commission affirmed the administrative law judge decision that the employe had reasonable assurance and was not eligible. The circuit court concluded that the commission’s decision was supported by its findings of fact which were supported by evidence in the record. The court affirmed the commission refusal to address the labor standards issue in the absence of an offer of proof.

Held: The commission did not consider the employe’s contention that the job did not meet the labor standards requirements since the employe’s objection to the job, commuting distance, is not one of the listed labor standards conditions. However, the statute requires the commission to examine the wages, hours and other employment conditions, not the employe’s stated motivation for refusing the job. The employe did say that low pay and the commuting distance caused him to reject the job. Since the hearing examiner denied the employe an opportunity to present evidence on the wage issue, a remand is necessary to give him that opportunity. The broad hearing notice that the issue is whether the employe was erroneously paid benefits, allows him to raise any issue under Wis. Stat. 108.04. An offer of proof is required in judicial proceedings but the department’s administrative rule excludes statutory and common law rules of evidence and procedure from unemployment compensation hearings.

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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