Employee fired for attending divorce hearing is not guilty of "misconduct;" may collect unemployment
Cynthia Galilei was apparently ready to wrap up her divorce. When a hearing date was assigned for the final hearing, she gave notice to her employer, Phillips-Johnson, Inc., two months in advance and made plans to attend. The employer told her that the date was inconvenient and refused permission to attend. Galilei insisted, a substitute was found to keep her insurance office open on the pertinent date, and she ended her marriage. The employer retaliated by terminating her and attempted to deny her unemployment benefits for "misconduct."
The administrative agency and the Circuit Court didn't agree on whether Galilei's conduct should make her ineligible to receive benefits. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals evaluated the case differently from either. It concluded, unanimously, that while her absence was not "out of her control" because she could have re-scheduled, it was merely "unsatisfactory" and did not render her ineligible. It was an absence for only one day, the reason wasn't frivolous, timely permission was sought, and there was no warning of potential dismissal: thus her action did not represent "willful and wanton disregard of the employer's interests."