Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Just say $%@* like the Sarge on Beetle Bailey

This post from Tim Sandefur brings to mind my very first appellate brief-writing project, in which the facts were these:

"During this meeting, the chief executive officer repeatedly asked for Cooper's resignation. Toward the end of the meeting, the chief executive officer "got on the subject" of union organizing activities that had occurred among company employees. He stated that he did not think the employees would "go for" union representation and Cooper responded that if they did not it was because they were afraid of losing their jobs. The chief executive officer told *704 Cooper that if he was to keep his job, he was expected to do what he was told. Cooper responded, "Well I don't know who you are or where you come from but you're full of shit." Cooper further stated that he did not believe anything told to him by company officials. The chief executive officer fired Cooper for making these remarks." Kennedy's Piggly-Wiggly Stores, Inc. v. Cooper, 14 Va. App. 701, 419 S.E.2d 278 (1992).

The appeals court ruled that using the "sh--" word was not "misconduct" severe enough to disqualify Mr. Cooper from receiving unemployment benefits. In researching the employer's brief, I plugged all the bad words I knew into Westlaw, looking for similar unemployment cases. What really bummed me about the case was that the VEC had decided for the employer, and straight from law school I was sure that appeals court would agree that it should defer to the administrative agency's expertise, particularly since the circuit court's opinion was unusual - and it was unusual, written in rhyming verse and sent out on April 1.

No comments: