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

Subject: Wisconsin Lutheran High School et al. v. LIRC and DILHR, Case Nos. 80-CV-2457 and 80-CV-3206 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Dane County, July 28, 1980)

Digest Codes:  ET 483.10

The Commission, in three decisions consolidated for judicial review, affirmed the appeal tribunal and held that plaintiffs were subject to and not excluded from Chapter 108. Plaintiff are separately incorporated associations of church congregations operating parochial high schools. The courses offered are taught from a religious viewpoint.

Held: Reversed as the employment for the plaintiff employers includes services in the employ of a convention or association of churches, within the meaning of section 108.02 (5)(h)l. of the statutes. Previously, section 108.02 (5)(g)7 of the statutes required that the “convention or association of churches” had to be operated “primarily for religious purposes,” so it is not now pertinent whether the schools are operated primarily for religious purposes. The term should be accorded its common and accepted meaning. To hold that the churches could each operate their own high school but could not band together for financial reasons in an association would be unreasonable. The Commission, in affirming the appeal tribunal, erroneously concluded that section 108.02 (5)(h)2. of the statutes would be surplus 1anguage.

There are two limitations to the rule that the Court is required to accord great weight to the statutory interpretation by the Commission. The first is that the interpretation has to be a rational interpretation. The second is that the interpretation be of long standing. If is not of long standing the Court may accord it due weight.

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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