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Angela S. Hopkins v. Pneumotech

January 6, 2012

ANGELA S. HOPKINS, CLAIMANT-RESPONDENT,
v.
PNEUMOTECH, INC., EMPLOYER, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT, AND IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT ON APPEAL.



Appeal from the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Jones, Justice.

2012 Opinion No. 6

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The decision of the Industrial Commission is affirmed.

This is an appeal by Pneumotech, Inc. from the Idaho Industrial Commission's determination that its former employee, Angela Hopkins, was eligible for unemployment benefits. Because we find that the Commission neither erred in denying Pneumotech's request for a new hearing nor abused its discretion in upholding the award of benefits, we affirm.

I.

BACKGROUND

Pneumotech hired Hopkins as a bookkeeper and receptionist on July 3, 1995. She worked at Pneumotech until June 22, 2010, when her supervisor fired her. The same month, Hopkins filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Idaho Department of Labor. After considering information from Pneumotech and Hopkins, the Department issued an Eligibility Determination awarding benefits. Pneumotech filed a timely protest of the determination. On July 26, 2010, the Department mailed a notice to the parties, scheduling the hearing for August 10, 2010. Included with the notice were copies of six exhibits.

At the hearing, Pneumotech presented testimony that Hopkins was discharged because: (1) for two years she had been habitually late for work; (2) she took time off without supervisor permission; (3) she took sick time off but went to the water park instead; (4) she spent time at work playing video games and talking on her cell phone; and (5) she failed to help train a new employee when asked. Hopkins denied all of these accusations, including that her supervisor had repeatedly warned her that her conduct was unacceptable. In fact, the supervisor testified that Hopkins never received a written warning or suspension, and in January 2009, she received a $2-per-hour raise.

Based on the hearing testimony and the six exhibits provided, the appeals examiner issued a decision on August 17, 2010, affirming the Eligibility Determination. On August 26, 2010, Pneumotech filed a timely appeal of the decision to the Commission. On August 31, 2010, the Commission served a Notice of Filing of Appeal on the parties, which included a copy of the Commission's Rules of Appellate Practice and Procedure (R.A.P.P.) and expressly indicated that a compact disc of the hearing was to follow. On September 1, 2010, the Commission served a compact disc of the audio recording of the hearing on the parties. On October 8, 2010,

Pneumotech filed a Request for Hearing supported by an affidavit from its counsel. The Commission denied Pneumotech's request in an October 14, 2010 order, finding the company failed to file the request within the seven-day filing window under R.A.P.P. 7(A). The

Commission also concluded that, even if Pneumotech's request had been timely, it would have been denied because the company had had ample opportunity to present evidence at the initial hearing.

The Commission issued a Decision and Order on November 2, 2010, affirming the appeals examiner's decision that Hopkins was not discharged for reasons of misconduct, that she was entitled to unemployment benefits, and that Pneumotech's account was chargeable for ...


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