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Wagstaff v. Department of Employment Security

Court of Appeals of Utah
826 P.2d 1069 (1992)


Facts

Hill Air Force Base employed Dennis L. Wagstaff (plaintiff) as a jet aircraft hydraulic mechanic. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations investigated allegations of civilian maintenance personnel using illegal drugs on and off the base. Several of Wagstaff’s coworkers implicated him in illegal drug use. When questioned by the Air Force, Wagstaff admitted to using cocaine on one occasion at a park while employed by the Air Force but denied any other illegal drug use. Based on Wagstaff’s admission and testimony from Wagstaff’s coworkers, the Air Force terminated Wagstaff’s employment. Wagstaff applied for unemployment benefits through the Department of Employment Security (defendant). The Department denied Wagstaff’s claim because the Air Force terminated his employment for just cause. Wagstaff challenged the Department’s decision and requested a formal hearing. At the hearing, Wagstaff again admitted to illegal drug use on one occasion but denied any other illegal drug use. The Air Force introduced as evidence a report containing statements from Wagstaff’s coworkers implicating him in using illegal drugs on more than one occasion. The Air Force did not produce the coworkers as witnesses at the hearing. The administrative law judge (ALJ) found the Air Force failed to establish just cause for Wagstaff’s discharge and reversed the Department’s decision. The Industrial Commission’s Board of Review reversed the ALJ. Wagstaff appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Orme, J.)

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