Unemployment Compensation Service Case Study

Why Ask Why

The case below illustrates the importance of gathering all of the details before proceeding with disciplinary action leading up to, or including termination.


The Final Incident
The claimant was employed as a bookkeeping clerk for a bank. She was scheduled to work on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. On Saturday, she did not show up to work or call in to inform them that she would be absent. The claimant said that she was at the hospital with her daughter, who had become ill earlier that morning. She had asked her mother to call the bank to advise her supervisor that due to her daughter's illness she would not be in for her scheduled shift. The claimant assumed that her mother had called the bank to inform them of her situation. Later in the day, when the claimant came home from the hospital, her mother informed her that she had called the bank, but did not leave a message. The claimant knew the bank was closed at that time and had decided to wait until her next scheduled shift to explain what had happened. Upon returning to work, the claimant was terminated by her employer for not calling to advise her supervisor of her scheduled work shift absence (no call/no show).

The Claim
ADP received the claim for unemployment and sent a protest letter to the state regarding the reason for the claimant's termination. The employer provided ADP with a copy of the company policy to submit with their letter to the state.

The claim determination found that the claimant was ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. The claimant filed an appeal.

The Hearing
The claimant had been employed for three weeks and was still under a 30-day probationary period when the final incident occurred. The claimant's supervisor was present at the hearing (as a witness) to testify that she did not receive a call from the claimant regarding her absence.

The claimant testified that her daughter was ill and needed to be taken to the emergency room on that Saturday morning. She was under the impression that her mother had called her supervisor to inform her that she would be absent. She said that her mother left the emergency room at 7:00 a.m. and had told the claimant that she would call her supervisor right away. The claimant testified that when she came home from the emergency room later in the day, she found out that her mother called her work, but did not leave a message regarding her absence. She also testified that she chose to wait until her next scheduled shift to speak to her supervisor regarding the incident.

The employer testified in the hearing that the bank has an answering machine that takes messages 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. The claimant had the obligation to inform the employer of her absence prior to her work shift. The claimant testified that she had asked her mother to call her supervisor prior to her work shift; therefore, she knew that she could have left a message on the answering machine prior to the bank opening. The claimant chose to wait until her next scheduled work shift to speak to her supervisor, which was four days later.

The Decision
An administrative law judge ruled in favor of the claimant, due to the claimant's statement that she believed her mother had called her work to advise them she would be out for the day. When the claimant found out that her mother never called, it was too late for her to change the circumstances. The determination was reversed and the claimant was eligible to receive benefits.

The Final Word
When an employee fails to show up for his or her scheduled shift, it is very important that the employer ask questions as to why the employee didn't inform the employer of their absence ahead of time. Many times, the employee will have a compelling reason for not showing up to work. In this case, it was an emergency with a child. The first question to ask yourself is "What would a reasonable person have done in this situation?" Your answer to this question should help guide you further on what steps are necessary when planning disciplinary action.

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