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

Subject: Carmica D. Mitchell vs. LIRC and Wisconsin Bell, Inc., Case No. 04 CV 4495 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee County, December 6, 2004) Christopher Foley, Circuit Judge

Digest Codes: MC 657

Mitchell began work for Wisconsin Bell in April 2002 as a service representative. She worked in an in-bound call center and took calls from customers to resolve billing questions and to place orders. The employer requires such employees to be taking such calls for 93 percent of their scheduled work time. 

Employees are required to sign in to a call-taking queue in order to receive calls from customers. During June 2003, Mitchell was not signed in properly to take calls for a total of 14 hours and 35 minutes. On June 16, 2003, the employer advised Mitchell that it was conducting an investigation of her conduct. That was Mitchell’s last day of work for the employer.

On June 17, 2003 the employer suspended Mitchell pending termination. Mitchell applied for unemployment insurance benefits on June 19, 2003. Mitchell was discharged by letter on July 2, 2003.

On April 22, 2004, the commission concluded that Mitchell was not eligible for unemployment benefits pursuant to Wis. Stat. 108.04(5) because she was discharged for misconduct connected with her employment.

Held: The court’s review authority is controlled by statute. The commission’s fact-findings are binding on the courts. This case is a mixture of fact and law determinations which the commission is in no better position than the court to interpret. Therefore the court will apply the “due weight” standard to the legal conclusions.

Evidence and argument not presented to the commission cannot be reviewed by the court. It is undisputed that Mitchell was in the wrong queue for 14 hours and 35 minutes over a period of nine days. The employer had a right to expect Mitchell not to manipulate the phone system. Her activity is clearly misconduct. Decision affirmed and benefits denied.

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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