(CN) – A Dillard’s employee who was fired after being labeled a “hot dog thief” should not have been denied his unemployment benefits, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
Nolan Koewler was fired after Dillard’s Fourth of July picnic in 2010 for eating two leftover hot dogs from the refrigerator.
Dock manager Mike Marz had bought the hot dogs and hamburgers for the picnic and said he told the employees to place the leftovers in the freezer to be saved until Labor Day.
Marz said he “believed” Koehler had heard that instruction.
After Koewler admitted eating the hot dogs, a store manager forced him to sign a statement to that effect or spend the night in jail.
Koewler was fired and later denied his unemployment benefits by the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the board’s decision on July 7.
“No finding of fact was made as to whether Koewler knew his reaching into the refrigerator and consuming two hot dogs was unauthorized. As previously observed, theft requires a knowing or intentional exertion of unauthorized control,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote the court.
“The Board’s determination of the ultimate fact that Koewler was terminated for just cause as a hot dog thief was not reasonable,” he added.