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Pinkowski v. Washington University

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

December 30, 2014

MICHELE PINKOWSKI, Claimant/Respondent,
v.
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, Respondent, and DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, Appellant

Appeal from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.

FOR APPELLANT: Christine K. Lesicko, Jefferson City, Missouri.

FOR RESPONDENT: Rodney A. Harrison, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., St. Louis, Missouri.

Michele Pinkowski, RESPONDENT, Pro se, St. Louis, Missouri.

Philip M. Hess, Judge. Sherri B. Sullivan, P.J. and Mary K. Hoff, J. concur.

OPINION

Philip M. Hess, Judge

Page 355

Introduction

This appeal arises out of a claim for unemployment benefits filed by Michele Pinkowski (Claimant), which was contested by her employer, Washington University (Employer). After an initial determination that Claimant was not disqualified from receiving benefits, Employer filed a notice of appeal with the Appeals Tribunal, contesting the claim. The Appeals Tribunal found that Employer's appeal was not lawfully filed and dismissed the appeal without reaching the merits of whether Claimant was disqualified for benefits. Employer filed an application for review with the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Commission). After reviewing the case, the Commission issued a decision, reversing the Appeals Tribunal's dismissal, and affirming the deputy's determination that Claimant was not disqualified from receiving benefits. On appeal, the Division of Employment Security (Division) claims the Commission erred in reversing the Appeals Tribunal's dismissal because Employer's appeal was not lawfully filed. We dismiss the appeal.

Background Facts

In December 2013, Michele Pinkowski (Claimant) worked for Washington University (Employer) in a position that lasted one day. Claimant subsequently filed a claim for unemployment benefits, which Employer contested. After an investigation, a deputy from the Division determined that Claimant was not disqualified from receiving benefits and Employer appealed. On behalf of Employer, Jennifer DeLatour, who was identified as " Employee Relations," for Employer, drafted, signed, and sent a letter notifying the Appeals Tribunal of Employer's intent to appeal the deputy's decision. In February 2014, the Appeals Tribunal held a telephone hearing and questioned DeLatour regarding the status of her position with Employer. DeLatour indicated that she was in a contractual position and filling a managerial role until Employer could fill the position with a permanent employee.

Page 356

DeLatour also testified that she prepared, signed, and filed the notice of appeal letter on behalf of Employer.

Following the hearing, the Appeals Tribunal issued its decision, dismissing Employer's appeal on the grounds that the appeal was not lawfully filed because DeLatour was an independent contractor, and not the " employing unit which employed claimant," or a lawful representative of Employer under Rule 5.29 (c).[1] The Appeals Tribunal did not reach the merits ...


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