Can Unemployment Compensation Benefits Be Denied When Termination Is Due to Tardiness ?

In Blumetti v. Unemployment Appeals Commission, 675 So. 2d 689 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), the employee Jay Blumetti appealed the Unemployment Appeals Commission's denial of unemployment compensation benefits due to Blumetti's excessive tardiness. On appeal, the Fifth District noted that Blumetti had been terminated because of his tardiness record in June, July and August. At the end of June, he had received a written warning that any further tardiness or infractions could result in termination. On July 20, he received another written warning for leaving his job without permission. However, the court found that the employer relied primarily on two instances occurring on July 20 and August 6 to justify Blumetti's termination, and the court found inadequate evidence to support a conclusion that these incidents were unexcused and Blumetti's fault. The court cited our decision in in Tallahassee Housing Authority v. Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission, 483 So. 2d 413 (Fla. 1986), and held that in tardiness cases, the employer "must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the former employee's tardiness was inexcusable and detrimental to the employer's interest." 675 So. 2d at 690. Finding that neither of the two most recent instances on which the employer relied to justify Blumetti's termination could be characterized as wanton disregard for the employer's interests or a deliberate violation of the employer's rules to constitute misconduct, the court reversed the denial of Blumetti's unemployment compensation benefits. See id. at 691.