DENNIS B. CURRENT, Claimant-Appellant,
WADA FARMS PARTNERSHIP, Employer, and IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Respondent.
Opinion No. 122
from the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho.
decision of the Commission is affirmed. Costs on appeal are
awarded to the respondent. Request for attorney fees on
appeal is denied.
B. Current, Blackfoot, pro se.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney
for respondent. Douglas A. Werth argued.
Nature of the Case
B. Current ("Current") appeals an Idaho Industrial
Commission (the "Commission") decision that
determined he was ineligible for unemployment benefits based
on willful underreporting of his earnings to the Idaho
Department of Labor ("IDOL"). IDOL discovered wage
discrepancies between the amount reported by Current and the
amount reported by his employer, Wada Farms Partnership
("Wada Farms"), for the weeks ending March 5, 2016,
and March 12, 2016. On appeal, Current disputes that he
"willfully" misrepresented his wages.
Factual and Procedural Background
September 2009, Current has worked for Wada Farms on a
seasonal basis. Due to the nature of his employment, his
hours varied weekly. When Current was not working regularly,
he sought unemployment benefits.
around April 2016, IDOL requested wage information from Wada
Farms for the weeks ending November 7, 2015 through March 19,
2016. On April 26, 2016, IDOL sent Current a letter,
notifying him that the wages that he had reported for the
weeks ending March 5, 2016 and March 12, 2016, differed from
the wages reported by Wada Farms; specifically, for the week
ending March 5, 2016, Current reported $330.00 in wages,
while Wada Farms reported $397.51 in wages, and for the week
ending March 12, 2016, Current reported $231.00 in wages and
Wada Farms reported $313.59 in wages. The letter afforded
Current an opportunity to explain the discrepancies. However,
Current maintains that he never received the letter.
10, 2016, IDOL issued an eligibility determination ruling,
finding that Current willfully misstated a material fact to
obtain unemployment benefits. As part of the ruling, IDOL:
(1) determined that Current would not be eligible for
benefits from May 8, 2016 through May 6, 2017; (2) sought
repayment of the benefits that Current received to which he
was not entitled; and (3) issued a civil penalty. Current
appealed the eligibility determination, arguing that he did
not willfully submit false facts or statements.
2016, the parties appeared for a telephonic hearing with the
Appeals Examiner to determine whether Current willfully made
a false statement or willfully failed to report a material
fact in order to obtain unemployment insurance benefits. In
response to questions regarding the discrepancy between
Current's reported wages, and Wada Farms' reported
wages, Current explained that Wada Farms' new payroll
system, Kronos, was electronic, and he was also enrolled in
direct deposit. As a result, Current noted that he did not
receive a paystub, and, at the time, he maintained that he
had no way to log onto the system to review his hours.
Current admitted that he estimated his hours, and deducted
hours for lunch. In a discussion regarding Kronos, Current
testified as follows:
Current: I was able to log onto Kronos after . . . May 26th .
. . But prior to that I was not able to access my time, my
hours, or anything like that and I just had to guesstimate
and I did mention that to some of your people over the phone
and they said that that was fine, that I could guesstimate my
time. . . .
Appeals Examiner: Okay. So when they told you [that] you
could estimate your time, did they tell you that you should
go back and correct your earnings once you find out - - once
you found out what you were actually paid?
Current: Well, I think they mentioned something like that,
but . . . like I said, I haven't been able to even access
a pay stub until May 18, 2016. . . .
also disclosed that he had been able to obtain printed copies
of his paystubs in the past, but that ...