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What did the CO Supreme Court Rule Regarding a Claimant’s Eligibility for Benefits Under the Colorado Employment Security Act?

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The Colorado Supreme Court tackled this issue in Mesa Cty. Public Library Dist. v. Indus. Claim Appeals Office, (2017 CO 78).

In this case, Laurie Gomez (“Gomez”), who was fired from her position as public services manager with the Mesa County Public Library District (“Library”), suffered from acute stress disorder and depression and was mentally unable to perform the work required of her. The Colorado Employment Security Act (“Act”), provides for unemployment benefits for a claimant who is involuntarily unemployed through no fault of her own. And the Act gives full benefits if a claimant is determined to have been “mentally unable to perform the work.” Here, the hearing officer making the determination for Gomez denied her benefits, saying her mental condition was a result of her poor job performance. Gomez appealed to the Industrial Claim Appeals Office, which reversed the decision. It said Gomez was mentally unable to perform her job duties, but concluded very little evidence supported the conclusion that Gomez committed a volitional act to cause her mental incapacity. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Library appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Court determined that if a claimant is found to be “mentally unable to perform the work,” it is not necessary to probe more deeply into the reasons behind the mental issues, and that an inquiry like that is beyond the scope of a simple administrative hearing that would determine the claimant’s eligibility for benefits. The Court also concluded the hearing officer had made a mistake when he said Gomez had the mental issues because of her own poor job performance. The Supreme Court of Colorado affirmed.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.

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