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Meyer v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office of State

Court of Appeals of Colorado, First Division

November 17, 2016

Lizabeth A. Meyer, Petitioner,
v.
Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado and Division of Unemployment Insurance, Benefit Payment Control, Respondents.

         Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado DD No. 20749-2015

         ORDER AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS

          Law Office of Warren Domangue, Warren Domangue, Lakewood, Colorado, for Petitioner

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Evan Brennan, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Respondent Industrial Claim Appeals Office

          No Appearance for Respondent Division of Unemployment Insurance, Benefit Payment Control

          OPINION

          DAILEY, JUDGE

         ¶ 1 In this unemployment compensation benefits case, petitioner, Lizabeth A. Meyer (claimant), seeks review of a final order of the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel). The Panel upheld a hearing officer's decision that claimant had received an overpayment of unemployment compensation benefits because of unreported earnings from her employment. The Panel also upheld the imposition of monetary penalties against claimant. We affirm the Panel's order in part, reverse in part, and remand the case for entry of a new order.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         ¶ 2 Claimant filed an unemployment compensation benefits claim with an effective date of March 11, 2012. Following that date, claimant worked part-time as a sales associate, and, in May 2012, she obtained full-time work as a controller for another company.

         ¶ 3 A deputy for the Division of Unemployment Insurance (Division) conducted an audit of claimant's file and determined that she had been overpaid unemployment compensation benefits in the amount of $1712 for the period from March 18, 2012, through May 19, 2012. The deputy found that claimant had underreported her hours and earnings for certain weeks during that period. The deputy also assessed a monetary penalty of $1112.80 against claimant.

         ¶ 4 Claimant appealed the deputy's determination and an evidentiary hearing was conducted. At the hearing, claimant conceded that the hours reported on her paystubs, rather than the ones she reported online to the Division, accurately reflected the hours she had worked. She asserted, however, that she was required only to report her taxable, rather than gross, earnings to the Division.

         ¶ 5 The hearing officer accepted, except for one week, claimant's concessions regarding the number of hours she had worked after applying for unemployment compensation benefits. The hearing officer concluded, however, that claimant had been instructed to report accurately her gross earnings and hours for each benefit week to the Division. Claimant had also been advised that giving false information in her request for payment constituted fraud.

         ¶ 6 The hearing officer found that claimant knowingly misreported her gross earnings and hours for certain weeks which resulted in her being overpaid $1890.64 in unemployment compensation benefits. The hearing officer also rejected claimant's explanations regarding the method she used to report her hours and earnings and found that her misreporting was willful. The hearing officer consequently assessed a monetary penalty of $1228.91.

         ¶ 7 Claimant appealed the hearing officer's decision to the Panel, which affirmed on review.

         ¶ 8 Claimant then brought this appeal. After the case was at issue, we requested that the parties address the following question:

Whether any payment made to or on behalf of an employee or his beneficiary under a cafeteria plan (within the meaning of 26 U.S.C. section 125), as specified under section 8-70-142(1)(c)(VIII), C.R.S. 2015, affects the amount of wages a claimant must report as his or her earnings when filing a claim for unemployment benefits?

         II. Standard of Review

         ¶ 9 We may set aside the Panel's decision if the findings of fact do not support the decision or the decision is erroneous as a matter of law. See § 8-74-107(6), C.R.S. 2016; Colo. Div. of Emp't & ...


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