Key Decisions

July 2012 – Employee’s Refusal To Sign Memo

(filed under: Key Decisions Archive | July 16, 2012)

Other Cases Of Interest

An Employee’s Refusal To Sign A Memo Acknowledging He Was Being Disciplined Was Not Just A Good Faith Error In Judgment

Paratransit, Ind. v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
(Cal. Ct. of App., 3d Dist.), filed June 15, 2012 

Craig Medeiros worked as a driver for Paratransport, a company that provided transportation for the elderly and disabled. A customer complained about Medeiros. Paratransport investigated the complaint and decided to discipline Medeiros by suspending him for two days.

Pursuant to a union contract, Paratransport was required to give Medeiros written notification of its decision. Medeiros was required to acknowledge having received the notification.

Paratransport asked Medeiros to sign the acknowledgment and assured him that he was not admitting anything. Nonetheless, Medeiros refused to sign the acknowledgment. Medeiros refused to sign the memo because he believed he should not sign anything without a union representative present. Paratransport warned Medeiros that if he didn’t sign, he would be fired for insubordination.

Medeiros asked to speak to a union representative and refused to sign the acknowledgment. Paratransport fired him.

Medeiros sought unemployment insurance benefits, which Paratransport resisted.

The Court of Appeal held Medeiros was not entitled to benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Code section 1256 disqualifies an employee from receiving unemployment compensation benefits if he or she has been discharged for misconduct. Misconduct within the meaning of section 1256 involves a willful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests or such carelessness or negligence as to manifest equal culpability. It does not include, among other things, good faith errors in judgment.

The court ruled that Medeiros’ refusal to sign the acknowledgment did not amount to a good faith error in judgment.