The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) denied last week the Washoe County School District’s appeal of an unemployment claim filed by an administrator recently fired from the district.
Trina Olsen, who is fighting for her job, alleged that her firing from the district did not follow district procedures and violated due process rights. ThisisReno covered her firing in depth last month.
Upon being notified, twice, of her termination–more than a year after the district started taking steps to fire her–Olsen filed an unemployment claim.
The district, however, appealed the claim after it was approved by DETR.
“The (School District) alleged that on May 11, 2017, the claimant was dishonest when she said she forgot an email contained sensitive information when she emailed all test testing information; the employer also alleged that on June 29, 2017, the claimant was dishonest when she claimed her dean of students returned drugs to students because she (the dean of students) saw the principal do the same thing (return drugs to students); and finally, the employer also alleged that on July 26, 2017, the claimant was dishonest when she said she had not talked about the investigation with staff, and the employer said she had.”
Olsen denied the charges. She said her actions were made with the best of intentions in mind for the district’s students and staff. The emailing of testing information was at her principal Lauren Ford’s direction and approval, Olsen maintained.
The state found in her favor on the unemployment claim.
“During the hearing, the claimant denied all the employer’s allegations. It is important to note that as the testimony was one-one, and as the courts in almost all jurisdictions have held that the Unemployment Compensation Act should receive liberal or broad construction in favor of those claiming benefits, this tribunal gives the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.
“Moreover, the employer did not prove their case by a preponderance of evidence. Finally, even IF this tribunal would have found that the claimant was dishonest with the employer, it took the employer a year to discharge the claimant; thus, diminishing the employer’s argument that the claimant was discharged for reasons of misconduct in connection with the work.
“Therefore…this tribunal finds that the claimant was discharged for reasons other than misconduct in connection with the work, and benefits should be allowed.”
Olsen is going through an arbitration hearing with the district later this week over her firing.
“I have to pay a ton of money to fight for my career,” she said. “It’s financial bullying.”
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.