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Forbes v. Lang

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

May 14, 2013

Shauna Forbes, appellee,
v.
Catherine D. Lang, Commissioner of Labor, appellant.

NOT DESIGNATED FOR PERMANENT PUBLICATION

Appeal from the District Court for Hall County: William T. Wright, Judge.

John H. Albin, Thomas A. Ukinski, and Caleb Dutson, Senior Certified Law Student, for appellant.

L. William Kelly for appellee.

Sievers, Pirtle, and Riedmann, Judges.

Pirtle, Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Catherine D. Lang, Nebraska's Commissioner of Labor (Commissioner), appeals from an order of the district court for Hall County which affirmed a decision of the Nebraska Appeal Tribunal (Appeal Tribunal). The district court found that the Appeal Tribunal properly reduced the amount of unemployment insurance benefits that the Nebraska Department of Labor (Department) determined Shauna Forbes had been overpaid and was liable to repay. Finding no error on the record, we affirm the decision of the district court.

BACKGROUND

Forbes was receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The Department conducted an audit of Forbes' wages between August 15, 2009, and January 30, 2010, to determine whether she had reported all her earnings during that timeframe and, thus, received appropriate unemployment insurance benefits.

Nebraska's Employment Security Law provides that any individual who willfully fails to disclose amounts earned during any week with respect to which benefits are claimed or who willfully fails to disclose or has falsified as to any fact which would have disqualified the claimant or rendered the claimant ineligible for benefits during such week, shall forfeit all or part of the claimant's benefit rights. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-663.01 (Reissue 2010). A claimant who has received benefits to which he or she is not entitled under the law shall be liable to repay those benefits. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-665 (Reissue 2010). The "Handbook for Claimants, " given to individuals claiming unemployment insurance benefits, explains that the claimant is required to keep accurate records of all earnings, including tips, and to accurately report earnings and that any overpayments must be repaid.

In conducting the audit, the Department sought information from Forbes' employers during the period at issue, which included "Bandits, " a restaurant where Forbes worked as a waitress, and the Department itself, where Forbes worked for 2 weeks in January 2011. Based on the information provided by the employers, the Department determined that Forbes had not accurately reported the earnings she had received from Bandits and had also failed to report earnings from her employment with the Department.

On September 7, 2010, the Department advised Forbes of a potential overpayment of unemployment insurance benefits between August 15, 2009, and January 30, 2010. On September 20, the Department sent Forbes a "Notice of Adjudicator's Determination, " informing her that the Department had determined she had failed to correctly report her earnings for the time period in question, which resulted in an overpayment of unemployment benefits in the amount of $1, 308, and that Forbes was obligated to repay such overpayment. The determination of this overpayment was based entirely on records received from Forbes' employers, Bandits and the Department.

On October 8, 2010, Forbes sent a letter to the Department challenging the potential overpayment. She included a handwritten account of the days and hours she worked between the dates in question. She also submitted photocopies of paystubs from Bandits that included handwritten ...


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