Written by attorney Angelo Felice Campano

An Employee refusing to sign a disciplinary memo can be fired and denied unemployment benefits.

In many jobs, employers have written warnings or notices they give to employees who are believed to have violated a work rule. Typically, these warnings/notices have a place at the bottom where the employee is supposed to sign his/her name. Generally, it is so the employee cannot later on say they never knew of the warning/notice. Sometimes, the employee refuses to sign the warning/notice because it might be looked at like an admission of fault. In a recent case, one employee refused to sign his name, and was fired for not signing the warning/notice. The employee filed for unemployment benefits and was initially given benefits. The employer appealed that decision and the Appellate Court sided with the employer. The Appellate Court found the employee committed misconduct for not signing the warning.

In Paratransit, Inc. v. Craig Medeiros, the fired employee filed for unemployment benefits. In California, an employee can be refused unemployment benefits if the unemployment judge finds the employee committed “misconduct". In this case, the fired employee was granted unemployment benefits by the unemployment judge. The employer appealed, the case made its way to the Appellate Court, where the employer prevailed. The Appellate Court found the discipline notice/warning was a standard policy at work and signing the warning was required as part of the job. Further, the Appellate Court found that just below the signature line, it read “employee signature as to receipt". The Appellate Court found, in this instance, that the employee signing the notice/warning was just to give the employee notice of the violation, not that the employee admitted fault.

In the Paratransit, Inc. v. Craig Medeiros, the Appellate Court seemed to support the employer and find the employer’s actions reasonable. According to the Appellate Court, the discipline notice/warning was a part of the job, and the notice/warning made it clear that the employee signing his name was not an admission of fault. The Appellate Court found misconduct by the employee because the employee refused to comply with the employer’s reasonable work rules/policy of signing the warning/notice. With a finding of misconduct, the employee was denied unemployment benefits.

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Campano Law Group Tel: 661-945-5300

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