Unemployment Appeals Reports 3/11/16

The 8th District affirms a denial of unemployment benefits to an employee who stored files, including pornographic files, on his work computer, holding that rules applying to the State Personnel Board of Review do not apply to unemployment benefits.

McIntire v. Cuyahoga County, 2016 Ohio 593 (8th Dist.).


February 18, 2016

The Claimant, Charles W. McIntire IV, was terminated from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department for storing personal files, including pornographic files, on his work computer.  The Review Commission denied his claims; however, on appeal to a trial court he obtained a reversal of that determination.  This appeal followed.

McIntire had been warned previously not to store personal files and applications on his work computer after the IT department determined that this may have been causing problems with his computer.  During this third incident, the IT department discovered pornographic files, including those of McIntire's girlfriend.  He was, therefore, terminated.

The 8th District placed much reliance on the limited standard of review of Review Commission cases, such that it would not disturb the Review Commission decision unless it was unlawful, unreasonable, or against the manifest weight of the evidence.  The 8th District first rejected the trial court's opinion that had been premised on a conclusion that the employer lacked just cause because it did not show that McIntire accessed the files or pornographic material at work.  The 8th District held that the employer only alleged that it terminated McIntire for the storage of the files, so access was not relevant.  It then rejected McIntire's argument that rules applied by the State Personnel Board of Review applied unemployment determinations.

It went on to reject McIntire's evidence of other employees who were not terminated for similar allegations because it concluded the evidence did not show the other employees actually stored pornographic files on their computers.  It also rejected McIntire's argument that the files were inadvertently put on the computer while syncing his phone or a hard drive.  As a result, the 8th District reversed the trial court and found McIntire ineligible for benefits.

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