The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Iowa

June 24, 2014

Man owed unemployment after message mistake

DES MOINES (AP) — A judge has ruled a Council Bluffs company must pay unemployment benefits after firing a man who left a voice mail message saying he’d be off to care for his wife and then talked of buying beer.

The Des Moines Register reported Monday that 43-year-old Tyler Michael, of Council Bluffs, called his employer, Omaha Standard Co., at 12:50 a.m. April 15 and left a message stating he needed to take the day off to care for his sick wife. He apparently tried to hang up, but the message continued and a man could be heard talking with a woman about his need for beer and when he could buy beer.

After hearing the message, the company fired Michael, contending he abused his Family Medical Leave Act privileges and violated the business’ attendance policies.

A telephone message left Monday at a listing for Tyler Michael in Council Bluffs wasn’t immediately returned.

Michael sought unemployment, and during a hearing company payroll administrator Catherine Ross said he had used the leave act 50 times between August 2013 and April 2014.

Michael testified his wife had multiple health problems and he was trying to give her medication when he called Omaha Standard.

He said he couldn’t say whether his voice was on the message.

Administrative law judge Randy Stephenson ruled Michael was entitled to unemployment benefits because the recording didn’t prove he lied about his wife’s health problems.

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