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Home » Border Wars » No Fault Means No Benefits: “Misconduct” as Defined by Missouri’s Employment Security Law by Zachary J. Cloutier

No Fault Means No Benefits: “Misconduct” as Defined by Missouri’s Employment Security Law by Zachary J. Cloutier

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Employment Security Law

Paul works for Nee’s Auto Shop, a local automobile service center. Nee’s Auto Shop hired Paul a few months ago for a seasonal position as a customer service associate, because Nee’s Auto Shop is especially busy during the holiday season. After demonstrating a strong work ethic and an aptitude for the position, Nee’s Auto Shop offered Paul full-time employment, which Paul gladly accepted. Paul’s duties include all initial tasks relevant to repairs, such as drafting work orders and assisting the Shop’s customers.

Three years later, Paul still works for Nee’s Auto Shop. Like previous years, the holiday season brings increased business. However, unlike previous years, Nee’s Auto Shop did not hire additional, seasonal employees. As a result, Paul is responsible for handling an ever-increasing workload and is struggling to maintain the shop’s books. Paul fails to charge a group of customers for parts and services, including a customer that Nee’s Auto Shop knows to be Paul’s close friend. Despite the mistake, Nee’s Auto Shop has a very successful holiday season and fails to notice any billing discrepancies.

Three months after Paul’s billing error, Nee’s Auto Shop reviews its past work orders in preparation to file its taxes, and notices a discrepancy in its billing records. The Shop’s owner tracks the customer data to work orders originated by Paul and concludes Paul failed to bill the customers at the shop’s expense. Soon thereafter, the owner confronts Paul about the billing errors. Paul denies knowledge of them and claims that he would never purposefully failed to bill a customer. But, the owner is unsatisfied with Paul’s denial and believes Paul did not charge the customers so that his friend could receive free repairs. The owner also knows his unemployment tax rate will increase if he arbitrarily discharges Paul. To protect his company’s interests, the owner finds an obscure company rule prohibiting preferential billing and discharges Paul citing the billing rule as his basis.

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