HR Strange But True!
March 20, 2008

An administrative law judge recently decided the case of a former hotel worker who sought unemployment benefits after his employer fired him for allegedly using a complimentary night's stay at the hotel where he worked to seek the same type of services that disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is accused of receiving.

The case involved a man who worked as a surveillance operator/technician for Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. In recognition of his length of service, the company had given him a complimentary room at the hotel and a $100 certificate for use in the hotel.

In November 2007, the man spent the night in his employer's hotel. The hotel alleged that during the night, he repeatedly contacted employees requesting the services of a "prostitute." The employees refused and complained to the hotel director, who, in turn, informed company management about the employee's behavior while a guest at the hotel. In addition, the hotel alleged that when security arrived at the man's hotel room to ask him to stop calling to request prostitutes, the man answered the door in the nude.

The man made two arguments in his defense. First, he said that the facility's upscale restaurant "overserved" alcoholic beverages to him. He also claimed that since the facility bills itself as a "Las Vegas style" casino, he reasonably believed prostitution may have been available.

After the company fired him, the man sought unemployment benefits. The Riverside Casino & Golf Resort fought the claim, arguing that the man was fired for misconduct in connection with his employment.

An administrative law judge ruled in favor of the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, saying the man knew about the employer's code of conduct that prohibits disrespectful or offensive conduct towards guests or other employees and that the rules prohibit conduct that would discredit the employer or gaming industry.

"The employer has sustained its burden of proof in showing a nexus or connection between the claimant's off-duty conduct in the employer's facility and disqualifying misconduct in connection with the claimant's employment," the judge wrote in denying the man's claim for unemployment benefits. "Although the claimant was off duty, the employer had a reasonable expectation that he would conduct himself in a manner that would not bring discredit upon the facility or be disrespectful or offensive to other employees of the facility."

Source: Jorgensen v. Riverside Casino and Golf Resort

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