from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, Don E.
Autry, Des Moines, for appellant.
Eric Neu of Minnich, Comito & Neu, P.C., Carroll, for
Considered by Bower, C.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.
Employment Appeal Board appeals the judicial review ruling by
the district court reversing the Board's determination
that the claimant was discharged for no disqualifying reason.
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
Employment Appeal Board (EAB) determined Amy Harbst Baschke
("Amy") was discharged for no qualifying reason
from her employment with Little Hands Childcare &
Preschool, Inc. The district court reversed, and the EAB
appeals. Because the EAB's decision was
supported by substantial evidence and was not unreasonable or
wholly unjustifiable, the district court erred in reversing
the EAB's ruling. We reverse and remand for dismissal of
the employer's petition.
claimant for unemployment benefits may be disqualified by
misconduct. See Iowa Code § 96.5(2) (2018).
Iowa Administrative Code rule 871-24.32(1)(a) defines
"Misconduct" is defined as a deliberate act or
omission by a worker which constitutes a material breach of
the duties and obligations arising out of such worker's
contract of employment. Misconduct as the term is used in the
disqualification provision as being limited to conduct
evincing such willful or wanton disregard of an
employer's interest as is found in deliberate violation
or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has
the right to expect of employees, or in carelessness or
negligence of such degree of recurrence as to manifest equal
culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, or to show an
intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's
interests or of the employee's duties and obligations to
the employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency,
unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the
result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary
negligence in isolated instances, or good faith errors in
judgment or discretion are not to be deemed misconduct within
the meaning of the statute.
See Huntoon v. Iowa Dep't of Job Servs., 275
N.W.2d 445, 447-48 (Iowa 1979). Misconduct must be
"substantial" to warrant a denial of job insurance
benefits. Newman v. Iowa Dep't of Job Serv., 351
N.W.2d 806, 808 (Iowa Ct. App. 1984). Disqualification for a
single misconduct incident "must be a deliberate
violation or disregard of standards of behavior which the
employer has a right to expect." Diggs v. Emp't
Appeal Bd., 478 N.W.2d 432, 434 (Iowa Ct. App. 1991).
after a telephonic hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ)
determined Amy was disqualified for misconduct. Amy appealed
to the EAB, which reversed the ALJ's ruling.
We have carefully weighed the credibility of the witnesses
and the reliability of the evidence considering the
applicable factors listed above, and the Board's
collective common sense and experience. We have found
[Amy]'s testimony credible. In particular we find
credible that she had a sincere belief that there was black
mold in the infant room, that she based this belief on
observation of what appeared to her to be black mold, and
that she did not initiate contact with parents to inform them
of the mold. We find credible [Amy]'s explanation that
one person texted her and she replied mentioning the
possibility of mold. The employer's testimony to the
contrary is based on what a husband said about a conversation
[his] wife had. It would not be at all surprising that the
husband was mixed up about a detail like who contacted whom
first. We also find credible that [Amy] prompted her father
to make report to the State over the matter. We thus focus on
whether [Amy]'s belief in the black mold was objectively
reasonable, and if her actions taken in furtherance of that
belief constitute misconduct. Before doing so we note that
[Amy]'s exhibit was nearly illegible in the form
appearing in the record and so we did not rely on it in
making our decision.
In general, "good faith errors in judgment or discretion
are not to be deemed misconduct within the meaning of the
statute." Good faith under this standard is not
determined by the claimant's subjective understanding.
Good faith is measured by an objective standard of
reasonableness. Otherwise benefits might be paid to someone
whose "behavior is in fact grounded upon some sincere
but irrational belief and where the behavior may be properly
deemed misconduct." "The ...