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An Ordinarily Intelligent Person Would Justify Employee Termination After 18 Disciplinary Incidents

In the case of Marlatt v. Ohio Dept. of Job & Family Servs., 2023-Ohio-630, an appellate court held that 18 documented incidents of disciplinary action over 22 months qualified as “just cause” under R.C. 4141.29(D)(2)(a) to terminate an employee and deny unemployment compensation benefits.

In this case, the unemployment commission argued that the employee engaged in a pattern of abuse resulting in 18 documented disciplinary incidents (e.g., placing tape over a security camera, coming into work for overtime without authorization, failing to cancel call forwarding on his work phone, failing to report to work, failing to follow safety protocols, failing to correctly perform labs, failing to come to work with work phone, excessively changing chemicals, leaving early and/or calling in sick on eleven occasions, and falsifying pay records). In response, the employee argued that the unemployment commission failed to establish that the employee engaged in a pattern of abuse, references to warnings issued to the employee do not constitute evidence of wrongdoing and/or fault on the part of the employee, and the commission failed to provide any evidence that the employee was discharged for just cause. The appellate court agreed with the unemployment commission.

In support of its decision, the appellate court explained that “just cause” is “that which, to an ordinarily intelligent person, is a justifiable reason for doing or not doing a particular act.” 2023-Ohio-630 at ¶ 15. As a result, the appellate court found competent, credible evidence in the record to support the determination that the employee was terminated for “just cause.”

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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