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

Subject: Gruenwald, Diane L.  (Hrg. No. 94608678MW) v. Labor and Industry Review Commission and Sentry Foods, Case 95-CV-008342 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee Co., August 20, 1996)

Digest Codes:  MC 630.14

The employe worked in the floral shop of the employer, a large grocery. She filled an order for a floral display for the funeral of a slain policeman. The order was placed on behalf of a fire station where her boyfriend worked. The agreement was for a $50 display, and that is what the employe charged for it. The employer’s manager subsequently observed that the display was significantly larger than would be expected for $50. The employer’s experienced florist subsequently valued it at more than $118. Concluding that the employe had provided the floral display to her boyfriend’s fire station at a significantly reduced cost because of her personal relationship with her boyfriend, the employer fired her. LIRC rejected the employe’s contention that she had priced the display in good faith, discounting it somewhat because of the age of some flowers. It found that she intentionally underpriced the arrangement and denied benefits.

Held: Affirmed. There is substantial evidence to support LIRC’s finding as to the employe’s intent. This included the fact that at the initial meeting at which the employer began to ask her about the floral arrangement, she was the first one to raise the issue of whether she had intentionally underpriced the arrangement because it was being purchased by the fire station where her boyfriend worked. This could be considered evidence of guilty knowledge on her part. The court may not second-guess LIRC’s assessment of credibility. Intentional theft from one’s employer is misconduct. The value of the theft is not material.

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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