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Diaz v. Iowa Employment Appeal Board

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 5, 2013

TINA E. DIAZ, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
IOWA EMPLOYMENT APPEAL BOARD, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hansen, Judge.

Tina Diaz appeals from the district court's ruling on judicial review, affirming the denial of unemployment benefits.

Joseph G. Bertogli, Des Moines, for appellant.

Rick Autry, Employment Appeal Board, Des Moines, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

DANILSON, J.

Tina Diaz appeals from the district court's ruling on judicial review, affirming the denial of unemployment benefits. The employment appeal board's conclusion that Diaz was discharged for misconduct was not irrational, illogical, or a wholly unjustifiable application of law to fact. We therefore affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

The following facts are not in dispute. Tina Diaz began working for CPMI in 1991. Diaz had access to company data provided by the United States General Services Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The federal contracts under which the employer, CPMI, operated provided that no individual charged or convicted of a felony or any drug or alcohol-related offense could have access to the information.

On August 23, 2011, CPMI sent a letter to Diaz terminating her employment. The letter explained:

On August 22, 2011, CPMI became aware that on July 29, 2011, you entered a plea of guilty to two counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance-methamphetamine, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.40l(1)(c)(6), a Class C Felony. As you know, CPMI works under numerous state and federal contracts that have specific rules on employing individuals with a criminal record. We believe your continued employment will put CPMI in a serious disadvantage in competing for future work and managing our security clearance requirements for that work. Accordingly, we feel your employment must be terminated.
Diaz was denied unemployment benefits "for conduct not in the best interest of [her] employer."

Diaz appealed that decision and, following a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), the denial of unemployment benefits was upheld. The ALJ ruled that Diaz was discharged for misconduct, finding:

The employer has established that the claimant's behavior placed it at risk for losing its contracts with the United States government. The claimant acknowledged not disclosing the fact of the criminal charge to the employer. While she attributed this primarily to embarrassment she listed a secondary concern as fear for her job. The evidence establishes that the claimant acknowledged her actions were inappropriate by pleading ...

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