Attorney Murphy is pleased with a recent decision by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) affirming unemployment benefits for his client, a former restaurant manager of major seafood restaurant chain based in Boston. Attorney Murphy represented the manager at 2 separate unemployment hearings because the unemployment office lost the evidence from the first hearing. Thus, Attorney Murphy’s client was required to appear at a second de novo hearing despite prevailing at the first hearing. This was extremely frustrating for Attorney Murphy’s client, to say the least.
At the first hearing, Attorney Murphy successfully established that his client did nothing wrong despite the employer’s allegations that the client violated company policy by serving alcohol to an intoxicated guest. The client prevailed at the first hearing because the employer failed to prove Attorney Murphy’s client was actually aware that the guest was intoxicated.
*At the second de novo hearing, the employer brought its lawyer and an additional witness, a bartender who worked on the evening at issue. Again, the employer argued that Attorney Murphy’s client violated company policy by allowing a guest to be served after being shut-off by one of the bartenders. Then the employer called the bartender who testified Attorney Murphy’s client served an intoxicated guest after being shut off. Attorney Murphy then cross-examined the bartender who admitted he was paid to testify at the hearing. Attorney Murphy then questioned the bartender about the time-line of events. The bartender’s answers were inconsistent, and ultimately the unemployment hearing examiner determined that the bartender was not credible. Further, the hearing examiner determined that the employer’s evidence simply could not prove the bar manager did anything wrong.
Accordingly, the bartender prevailed again and is now receiving unemployment benefits.
Attorney Murphy understands that from a business point of view the employer in this case believed it was necessary to contest the bar manager’s eligibility for unemployment benefits; but, unfortunately, the employer failed to understand the purpose of unemployment law: to assist individuals who lost their job through no fault of their own.
Thus, the unemployment law contains strict requirements and employers should be well-advised to understand the law before wasting time and resources contesting claims.