Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance
Subject: County of Marquette v. LIRC and Baker et al., Case No. 02 CV 7 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Marquette Co., August 28, 2002) (Bench Decision)
Digest Codes: ET 490
Employees were ambulance drivers and paramedics for Marquette County. Their work mostly involved waiting “on call”, and responding to emergencies such as accidental injuries, illnesses, house fires, and similar events. County argued that they were in excluded employment under § 108.02(15)(f)5, which provides that “employment” does not include service “as an employee serving solely on a temporary basis in case of fire, storm, snow, earthquake, flood or similar emergency”. This argument was rejected in the department’s Initial Determination, the Appeal Tribunal decision, and LIRC’s decision. County appealed to Circuit Court.
Held: Affirmed. The statute is unambiguous: it covers persons who are serving solely on a temporary basis, in case of some of the enumerated disaster-type emergencies. It is clear that the statute has reference to those who would be employed to handle unexpected general emergencies, not the irregular yet frequent accidents and trauma suffered by a few individuals at a time. Apart from the term “fire”, the types of emergencies listed in the statute refer to things that affect the community on a wider scale. In addition, “temporary” is not the same thing as “intermittent” or “irregular”. The employees here are also employed on a regular basis in that they are paid to be in “on call” status, and thus they are not employed “solely” on a temporary basis. The statute’s use of the term “solely” makes this a very limited exemption from coverage.
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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