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

Subject: Richard L. Lueck v. LIRC and A. O. Smith Corporation, No. 84-1199, Ct. App. Dist. II, June 5, 1985, unpublished.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 Stat. 809.23(3) provides that an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals is of no precedential value and for that reason may not be cited in any court in this state as precedent or authority. Summaries of unpublished Court of Appeals decisions are included in this collection as an informational service only, and their use contrary to 809.23(3) is not encouraged.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:  MC 630.07    MC 630.14    MC 630.16    MC 665.12   MC 694

Lueck was an employee of the A. O. Smith Corporation for sixteen years. The circumstances of his discharge were that he asked his superior if he could purchase some steel rods.  His supervisor told him that he was not authorized to sell the rods, only flat scrap steel.  He then directed Luedck to the maintenance supervisor, who told Lueck that rods were not being sold because employees had taken good steel and cut it down in order to purchase it as scrap.  He told Lueck that he should return to talk to his supervisor.  After this refusal, Lueck took the rods and placed them near the company fence.  When he drove his car to this spot and started loading the rods into it, he was apprehended and discharged for theft.  The Initial Determination and then the ALJ found the employee was discharged for misconduct, and the commission agreed.  

On appeal, the circuit court reversed, concluding that the employee had taken scrap, and that any interest of the employer in it was certainly minimal if not non-existent.  The circuit court opined that the discharge of this 16-year employee with a model work record, for taking scrap, was absolutely unreasonable and that his conduct did not amount to misconduct as a matter of law.  The commission appealed

Held: The Court of Appeals reverses the decision of the Circuit Court and reinstates the decision of the commission.  The question to be decided, is whether Lueck intended to steal. The commission concluded that Lueck's employer had an interest in having an enforceable procedure for the removal of material from its premises.  In taking the rods without permission, it concluded, Lueck disregarded this interest.  As the commission pointed out, the employer's attempt to control removal of property would be futile if an employee, after being refused permission to remove material, decided it was scrap and took it anyway.  This is a rational basis for the commission's conclusion that under the circumstances Lueck's actions were misconduct.

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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