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

Subject: Sherron R. Battle v. Labor and Industry Review Commission and SSC Germantown Opr Co., Case 10 CV 1011 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee Co., September 14, 2010)

Digest Codes: MC 640.03 - Insubordination, Disobedience

The employee worked third shift as a resident care specialist for the employer, the operator of a nursing home facility. On her last night of work, the employee and a co-worker were responsible for taking care of 28 patients. Because some residents need more care than others, employees would not always each be assigned exactly the same number of residents to care for. The charge nurse assigned the employee 15 patients and the co-worker 13. The charge nurse did so because one of the employee's 15 patients shared a room with a patient who required little care and the charge nurse wanted to avoid the additional interruptions to the patients that would result from assigning one of the patients in the room to the employee and the other to the co-worker. The employee refused the assignment of the room. The charge nurse asked her a second time to take the room, and explained the reasoning behind the assignment. The employee again refused the assignment. The shift supervisor, who had overheard the exchange between the employee and the charge nurse, intervened, instructed the employee to take the assignment, and warned the employee that her responses to the charge nurse were insubordination. The employee continued to refuse the assignment, and the employer discharged her for insubordination.

The commission held that the employee's refusal of the assignment was misconduct. The commission found that the assignment by the charge nurse was consistent with the needs of the residents, employer, and staff, and also that there was no ill motive on the part of the charge nurse. The employee's refusal to accept an assignment that was within the employer's prerogative and that was reasonable, was insubordinate and thus misconduct.

Held: AFFIRMED. First, the court gave great weight deference to the commission's legal conclusion of misconduct. Next, the court held that substantial evidence in the record, specifically testimony from the charge nurse, supported the commission's factual findings as to the employee's conduct. Finally, the court found reasonable the commission's conclusion of misconduct. The employee's continued refusal to take the assignment was insubordinate, and was conduct evincing a willful, wanton, and negligent disregard of the employer's interests.

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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