The California Supreme Court has decided that a single act of employee disobedience may not always constitute misconduct within the meaning of section 1256 of California’s Unemployment Insurance Code.
Recent case: Craig worked as a driver for Paratransit for close to six years. Following an investigation into a customer complaint, two Paratransit representatives called a meeting with Craig. They told him that the company had found the customer’s complaint to be valid and suspended him for two days without pay.
At the end of the meeting, he was asked to sign a memorandum documenting the disciplinary action. Craig refused to sign the form, noting that he feared it would be an admission of wrongdoing. He also explained that the union president told him not to sign anything without a union representative present.
He was also told that he was not entitled to union representation and that his signature would only acknowledge receipt of the memorandum. When Craig again refused, Paratransit fired him for insubordination.
Craig was denied unemployment insurance benefits based on misconduct and appealed all the way to the California Supreme Court.
It held that Craig’s refusal to sign the memo was “not misconduct but, at most, a good faith error in judgment that did not disqualify him from unemployment benefits.” (Paratransit, Inc. v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (Medeiros), No. S204221, Supreme Court of California, 2014)