WILLIAM M. WITTKOPF, Claimant/Appellant,
BON APPETIT MANAGEMENT CO., Employer/Respondent, IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Respondent.
from the Industrial Commission, State of Idaho.
order of the Industrial Commission is vacated. This
case is remanded for further proceedings consistent
with this Opinion.
William M. Wittkopf, pro se, Caldwell, for
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
NATURE OF THE CASE
an appeal arising from an order of the Industrial Commission
affirming the decision of an Appeals Examiner. The Appeals
Examiner found it did not have jurisdiction to hear William
Wittkopf's ("Wittkopf") protest of an
eligibility determination for unemployment benefits because
it was untimely. We vacate the order of the Industrial
Commission and remand this case for further proceedings.
FACTS AND PROCEDURE
11, 2013, the Idaho Department of Labor ("IDOL")
mailed an eligibility determination for unemployment benefits
(the "2013 determination") to Wittkopf. This
determination found Wittkopf underreported his wages for
several weeks, which resulted in an overpayment in
unemployment benefits. As a result, Wittkopf was: (1) ordered
to repay the overpayment; (2) ineligible for any unemployment
benefits for a fifty-two week period; and (3) assessed a
civil penalty. Additionally, Wittkopf was told that he would
remain ineligible for unemployment benefits until all amounts
were repaid. Pursuant to Idaho Code section 72- 1368(3) the
last day for Wittkopf to file a protest to the 2013
determination was July 25, 2013. Wittkopf failed to file a
attempted to collect on the 2013 determination over the next
year without success. Subsequently in early 2016, Wittkopf
filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The debt he owed to the state
of Idaho was included in his bankruptcy and was discharged by
order of the Bankruptcy Court.
September 2016, Wittkopf began filing new claims for
unemployment benefits with IDOL because he worked a seasonal
job and was not receiving any income in the winter months.
After not receiving benefits for several weeks, Wittkopf
called IDOL on September 26, 2016. IDOL informed Wittkopf
that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he
had failed to pay back his overpayment, civil penalty, and
interest he owed IDOL, even though those amounts were
discharged in bankruptcy. IDOL explained that it had stopped
seeking to collect this amount because of Wittkopf's
bankruptcy discharge; however, IDOL kept track of this amount
and refused to pay Wittkopf any unemployment benefits until
it was paid. On September 27, 2016, Wittkopf mailed a letter
to IDOL protesting the denial of his unemployment benefits.
Wittkopf claimed in this letter that he was eligible for
unemployment benefits because his bankruptcy discharged any
amount he owed to IDOL.
October 18, 2016, a telephonic hearing was held before an
Appeals Examiner. The Appeals Examiner construed
Wittkopf's September 27th letter as a protest of the 2013
determination. Two days later the Appeals Examiner issued a
written decision finding there was no jurisdiction to hear
Wittkopf's protest because it was not filed within
fourteen days of when it was issued on July 25, 2013, as
required by Idaho Code section 72-1368. On November 3, 2016,
Wittkopf appealed the Appeals Examiner's decision to the
Industrial Commission. On January 27, 2017, the Industrial
Commission affirmed the Appeals Examiner's decision. On
March 8, 2017, Wittkopf wrote a letter to the Industrial
Commission stating he wanted to appeal its order to this
Court. The Industrial Commission filed a formal appeal on
Wittkopf's behalf, in compliance with Idaho Appellate
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
this Court reviews a decision from the Industrial Commission,
we exercise free review over questions of law. Uhl v.
Ballard Med. Prod., Inc., 1 ...