According to Cap Times, Scott Walker’s plan to drug test the unemployed and food stamp recipients faces uphill battle.
The unemployment advisory council and the Department of Workforce Development are holding a public hearing tomorrow, 13 November 2014, to take comments on unemployment law. The hearing will be in the afternoon and early evening from 2:30 to 4:30 and 5:30 to 7 PM.
In Madison, the location for the hearing will be:
The Pyle Center
702 Langdon Street
Check the DWD website for other locations. If you want to say something about how the state is handling unemployment law, here is your opportunity. See you there.
Hat tip to Daniel J.B. Mitchell, Professor-Emeritus at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, for this history lesson about veterans and unemployment.
The decision deserves careful reading. There is no surprise here that the Commission found no misconduct. In failing to secure a wheelchair passenger, the Commission explained, the “employee did not willfully disregard this responsibility; it was an act of negligence” and that this “negligence was not of a severity to willful disregard of the employer’s interests.”
But, the Commission did find that this negligence constituted substantial fault. The Commission maintained in this decision: (1) that the reasonableness of the employer’s requirements is established as articulated (that is, on its face) and (2) that the employee has to demonstrate that the action at issue was beyond his or her reasonable control. For the Commission, the employee failed to satisfy this requirement. “The evidence does not show that the employee’s failure was a minor infraction, that the error was merely an inadvertence, of that she lacked sufficient skill, ability or equipment to perform her responsibility.”
There are two problems here with the Commission’s reasoning. First, the Commission is placing the burden of proof on claimants to demonstrate they satisfy one of the three caveats to avoid a finding of substantial fault rather than having employers first show that the action at issue truly is something the employee should be expected to have reasonable control over. Second, and more troubling, the Commission is holding here that a negligent act disqualifies someone from unemployment benefits. As a result, this decision could possibly threaten the tax credits employers currently qualify for.
There are a few but very important federal requirements that state unemployment systems must satisfy in order for the employers in those states to qualify for tax credits. See 6 U.S.C. § 3302 (federal tax credits for employer’s contributions to state unemployment funds). One of these requirements is that:
(10) compensation shall not be denied to any individual by reason of cancellation of wage credits or total reduction of his benefit rights for any cause other than discharge for misconduct connected with his work, . . .
6 U.S.C. § 3304(a).
If the Secretary of Labor finds that a state is not meeting this requirement, then that lack of compliance means the tax credit goes away. So, the Commission, by holding that substantial fault is in actuality substantially less stringent than the misconduct standard, may have effectively ended a vital tax savings for employers. For a measure originally intended to reduce the unemployment benefits being paid out, the new substantial fault standard may now cost employers much more through higher taxes.