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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Workers Caught With Pants Down Lose Lawsuit

(CN) - A pair of bank employees allegedly caught half-naked in the file room by a co-worker were properly denied unemployment benefits, the Utah Court of Appeals ruled.

Jeffrey Record and Emilie Tanner were individually summoned to the Human Resources office at Zions Bank to respond to reports from co-workers that they spent too much time together behind closed doors.

The reports continued, though, and their workspaces were moved to create some distance. Record and Tanner both claimed they were not behaving inappropriately.

One day, a co-worker stepped into the file room to blow her nose. In a written report, she claimed that she turned the lights on, revealing Record and Tanner together with their "clothes half off in the back corner of the room on a chair."

The co-worker wrote that Tanner "jumped up. And Mr. Record's pants were not on, so he jumped up and pulled his pants up."

She also claimed that she waited by the door so she could properly identify Record and Tanner as they left the room. The pair later admitted they were in the room together, but they said they were talking about work.

Record and Tanner were fired for gross misconduct and creation of a hostile work environment. Their requests for unemployment benefits were denied because they were terminated for just cause.

The amorous former co-workers each appealed the case, but the Utah Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in a consolidated opinion.

A three-judge panel denied Record and Tanner's late request to admit photos of the file room, which they said showed that they couldn't be seen from the co-workers' vantage point.

The appeals court ruled that the photos should have been submitted during the hearing at which Record and Tanner's benefits were denied. Also, the co-worker's testimony carried considerable weight.

"The board accepted the administrative law judge's findings that the co-worker had accurately reported that the claimants were in a state of undress in the file room," Judge Carolyn McHugh wrote for the court. "Even Mr. Record agrees that 'if in fact [he] were naked in the room, as claimed by [the co-worker], [he] should have been terminated.'" (Brackets in original.)

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