Missouri court awards benefits where employer’s rule regarding ‘poor performance’ was too broad
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Friday, May 22, 2020

Missouri court awards benefits where employer’s rule regarding ‘poor performance’ was too broad

By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff

The claimant, a loader and dock worker who operated a forklift loading freight onto trucks, was terminated from his position for poor job performance after receiving four notices of written warning and then, after the warnings, incorrectly loading some freight. The employer's rule merely barred "poor performance" defined as a failure to perform to acceptable standards but it offered no guidance to employees as to what actions or conduct to take or avoid. According to the court, by its very nature, such a broad rule acts as a virtual absolute bar for recovery of benefits in contradiction to state law and requires perfect performance by Missouri employees or they will be subject to a total loss of benefits upon termination. Additionally, the rule does not adequately inform employees of the conduct required to be in compliance. Although the claimant in this case may have been discharged for cause because he performed his job poorly, there was insufficient evidence that his actions rose to the level of insubordination or misconduct which would support a denial of benefits. Thus the court reversed the Commission's order denying benefits and remanded the case for the Commission to enter an order finding the claimant eligible for them (Mark Wayne v. DES, Mo. Ct. of App., Western Dist., No. WD83132, April 28, 2020).

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