Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance
Subject: Stephen E. Lee v. LIRC, Div. of Unemployment Insurance of DWD, Building One Commercial, Inc. f/k/a Crest International, LLC, Case 01-CV-008406 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee Co., April 5, 2002)
Digest Codes: PC 712.6 PC 714.12 PC 715
The employee disagreed with the department’s computation of his base period wages. A hearing was held and the employee refused to answer a preliminary question put forth by the ALJ, because he did not feel the question was relevant and he wanted to testify immediately with regard to his side of the controversy. The ALJ stopped the hearing when the employee refused to answer his question, and found that the employee had, in effect, failed to appear at the hearing pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 108.09(4)(d). The commission affirmed this finding.
In his appeal to circuit court, the employee asserted that the ALJ’s summary dismissal violated his due process right to be heard.
Held: The commission is reversed and the case is remanded for a new hearing. Wis. Stat. § 108.09(4)(d) is intended to apply to individuals who physically do not appear for a scheduled hearing, not individuals who appear but refuse to answer certain questions. The employee was denied due process because he was not given a fair opportunity to present his own evidence. While refusing to answer the ALJ’s questions may have been disadvantageous to the employee’s case, this was insufficient reason to justify a dismissal.
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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