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Esserman v. Review Bd. of Ind. Dep't of Workforce Dev.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 19, 2014

SUZANNE E. ESSERMAN, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
REVIEW BOARD OF THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, and INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Appellee-Respondent

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE REVIEW BOARD OF THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. The Honorable Steven F. Bier, Chairperson. Cause No. 14-R-01005.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: MARY JANE LAPOINTE, DANIEL LAPOINTE KENT, Lapointe Law Firm, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; KYLE HUNTER, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

BROWN, Judge. BAILEY, J., and ROBB, J., concur.

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OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION

BROWN, Judge.

Suzanne E. Esserman (" Employee" ) appeals a decision by the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (the " Board" ) denying her claim for unemployment benefits. Employee raises one issue, which we revise and restate as whether the record supports the Board's decision. We reverse.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Employee began her employment with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (" Employer" ) on February 20, 1989, and her employment was terminated effective January 17, 2014, at which time her position was Senior Environmental Manager 1 within the Excess Liability Trust Fund (the " ELTF" ) section. The section reviewed claims submitted by owners and operators who had underground storage tanks, primarily gas stations, which leaked and were required to do remediation and cleanup of contaminants, and the ELTF program provided reimbursement for specific costs incurred in performing those cleanups. The source of funding for the ELTF program is derived from tank fees paid by owners and operators of underground storage tanks and from a per-gallon fee or tax placed on the distribution of gasoline. Employee began to work with the ELTF section on December 20, 2011.

Roberta Steiff, the ELTF Claims Section Chief for Employer, became Employee's supervisor in July of 2012. In October 2012, Steiff placed Employee on a work improvement plan to become more

Page 833

efficient in completing tasks. The improvement plan stated in part that Employee was expected to " complete claim triage on a minimum of 180 claims monthly, completing no fewer than 9 claims daily." Exhibits at 26. Employee's performance appraisal report for the review period of January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012, which was signed by Employee on June 10, 2013, indicated, under the heading " Performance Expectations/Goals," that Employee met expectations in four measurement categories, namely, document review and evaluation, review of completeness and accuracy of claim applications, final cost review decision packages, and providing guidance and support to others, and Employee did not meet expectations in two categories, namely, serving as backup to other senior level ELTF staff and completing special projects or assignments. In June 2013, Employer provided quota requirements to Employee. Steiff had Employee sign another performance appraisal report on June 10, 2013, which set forth certain expectations for Employee and stated in part:

Document Review and Evaluation -- Completes monthly Senior Quality Control reviews of no less than $1,400,000 dollars of claims submitted by cost reviewers within allotted time frames outlined by Rule and IDEM guidelines; reviews and evaluations are completed to ensure that the work performed and the results summarized in the reviewed documents are complete and consistent with State, IDEM, program area, and commonly accepted industry/technical policies, procedures and practices 90% of the time. Provides senior quality control reviews for claim decision packages for all claims. . .
Claims Processing and Management -- Complete claim review of no less than $150,000 worth of claims on a monthly basis, averaging $150,000 to $300,000 over the course of the year. . . .

Exhibits at 41.

On December 17, 2013, Steiff sent an e-mail message to Employee, copying Craig Schroer on the e-mail, stating, " [a]s a reminder, the claim reviewer is responsible for verifying the time" and that, " [d]uring senior quality control, you should be verifying any time denials, looking for inconsistencies and making sure we followed the rule without denials. It is also important to verify large costs paid should be paid (bid items, drilling, etc.) since you will be the last one to review the claim with the back up in ...


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