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

Ronald Meverden v. LIRC and Kolbe and Kolbe Millwork Co., Inc., No. 89-CV-586 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Marathon County February 28, 1991) 

Codes:     MC 630.14    MC 630.16

The employe was stopped while exiting the employer's premises and the bag he was carrying was inspected. He was found to have 2 small wooden discs, 15 wood screws, two or three pieces of sandpaper, a small bottle of glue, and a small metal shaft, that belonged to the employer.  He did not have a scrap pass. He was subsequently discharged for attempting to remove company property from the premises.

The employe, at various times, gave different explanations for having company property in his possession at the time of the exit check. His explanation, that he was taking materials home to build a piece of equipment for his use on the job, was accepted by the ALJ.  The commission reversed after conferring with the ALJ on the ground that having given multiple explanations, the employe was not credible.

Held: Affirmed. There was a presumption raised that the employe was appropriating the employer's property for his own use. That presumption would have been defeated if he had been able to present a credible explanation. The differing explanations discredited him.

The employe's argument that he is only guilty of an isolated infraction of a work rule resulting in no appreciable detriment to the employer is rejected. Clearly, stealing is a type of activity which has "wrongful intent or evil design." When an employe steals, he is acting with intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interests. The value of the items stolen are immaterial. Employers should be able to expect honest and noncriminal conduct from their employes.

[LIRC decision]

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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