Misconduct and Tardiness Caused by Depression are Not Grounds for Denial of Unemployment Benefits

I was glad to find out yesterday that yet one more of my clients won the appeal of the denial of unemployment benefits in Sacramento County. In that case, I represented a nurse who was an outstanding and dedicated employee for Kaiser for over 13 years before she was diagnosed with major depression that lead to her being late to work on occasions and seeking treatment.

My client was summarily terminated under the blanket absenteeism policy of Kaiser that completely disregards state and federal disability laws and obligations that employers have toward disabled workers. At a hearing, the employer represented by the managing nurse of the department admitted that she was aware of the claimant’s diagnosis for several years prior to her termination. Being a medical professional, the employer’s representative didn’t even dare to suggest that she did not know that some of the common symptoms of depression are anxiety, fatigue, inability to focus and thus – the resulting tardiness.

The administrative law judge ruled in my client’s favor as I expected, concluding that even though she violated the employer’s policy, because the violation was caused by the common symptoms of depression, she should not be disqualified from unemployment benefits under section 1256 of the unemployment insurance code.