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Home / Opinions / Courts / Court of Appeals, Eastern District / Unemployment Compensation : Denial Of Benefits – Misconduct – Intentional Hitting

Unemployment Compensation : Denial Of Benefits – Misconduct – Intentional Hitting

Where an employee was terminated for intentionally striking another employee, the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission did not err in awarding unemployment benefits because the conduct was a justification for termination, but it did not rise to the level of misconduct to support the disqualification of benefits because the employer did not have an express rule addressing physical contact between employees.


First impression

Dissenting opinion by Page, J.: “As the principal opinion observes, there exists no Missouri case directly on point to answer the question whether Stahl’s ‘deliberately striking a co-employee’ constituted ‘misconduct; under Section 288.030.1(23)(a). In the absence of precedent this court reverts to statutory interpretation. Pursuant to the most recent amendment to the governing statute, I believe our analysis of misconduct is simply whether Stahl’s conduct constituted “a knowing violation of the standards which the employer expects” and that Stahl’s ‘deliberately striking a co-employee’ constitutes misconduct, as a matter of law, under Section 288.030.1(23)(a)….

“Every kindergartener is taught that deliberately striking another individual is inappropriate and subjects one to a wide array of consequences. Furthermore, Stahl’s conduct was of such a nature as to subject Stahl to criminal and/or civil penalties…Failure to understand the ramifications of such conduct is not a defense either in criminal or tort law and should not be tolerated in the workplace. Specifically, Stahl should not be permitted to cloak her ignorance of universally and fairly understood standards of behavior which every employer has a right to expect of its employees under the guise of naiveté.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Stahl v. Hank’s Cheesecakes, LLC (MLW No. 69157/Case No. ED103466 – 17 pages) (Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Odenwald, J.) Appealed from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Alan J. Agathen for appellant) (Larry R. Ruhmann for respondent).

Read the full text of this opinion.