Appeals court sides with ex-jailer in jobless benefits dispute

Rejecting arguments from Mesa County, the Colorado Court of Appeals said in a ruling last week that a former booking technician at Mesa County Jail is entitled to unemployment benefits, despite the former employee’s dismissal from the job for alleged incompetence.

The employee, who worked at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department between November 2009 and May 2010, was let go because of ongoing poor job performance, despite written warnings and weeks of additional training following a standard 16 weeks of training, according to the court’s ruling.

Mesa County argued the former employee was “at fault” for separation from the county, and therefore should be denied unemployment benefits.

However, the Colorado Industrial Claim Appeals office ruled unemployment benefits should be awarded, adding the employee in question wasn’t qualified for the position in the first place.

The Court of Appeals agreed.

“As noted by the panel, it reasonably could be inferred from the evidence that the cause of (employee’s) inadequate job performance was ... lack of occupational skills necessary for this position,” the court said.

The ruling said there’s no authority in Colorado case law supporting the notion that unemployment benefits should be denied because someone was “at-fault” for his or her separation.

Prior to working for the Sheriff’s Department, the employee worked in services such as day care and sign-language interpretation, the ruling said.


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