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

Subject: Stanley G. Thomas vs. Labor and Industry Review Commission and The Stroh Brewery Co. (Case No. 00 CV 81, Wis. Cir. Ct., La Crosse County, September 8, 2000)

Digest Codes:  AA 230  CP 350

The employee began working for the employer or one of its predecessors in May 1962. His last assignment for the employer was as a bottler in the packaging department on first shift. He was paid $16.63 per hour. The employee filed a benefit claim for the week ending July 24, 1999. On August 1, 1999, the union advised the employees that the business had been sold and the employees would be recalled from the seniority list. The employee was number 2 of 450 on that list. His last day of work was August 6, 1999. He reopened his benefit claim on Friday, August 13, 1999. He did not perform a work search for that week. The commission found that the employee failed to make a reasonable search for suitable work in that week within the meaning of Wis. Stat. 108.04(2) and denied benefits.

Held:  In order to qualify for a waiver of the work search requirement the statute requires a reasonable expectation of employment. It does not require an assured or certain expectation of employment within 12 weeks. The employee’s 37 years of participation in the labor market demonstrates his commitment to the labor market. The commission acted in excess of its powers since its findings do not support the denial of benefits to the employee. The work search requirement should have been waived under the department’s rules. The 12 week standard applies to the employee since he has been continuously employed at the same facility doing the same job under substantially the same collective bargaining agreement. The commission’s decision is unsupported by a rational basis. Commission decision reversed. Benefits allowed.

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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