Last Fourth of July, carnivorous dock worker Nolan Koewler got a bit more independence than he bargained for when his employer, Dillard's department store, fired him for eating two hot dogs left over from an employee picnic. Then Dillard's tried to deny him unemployment!
But on Thursday, the Indiana Court of Appeals determined that Koewler, who worked at the Dillard's in Evansville, Indiana, was not fired for just cause, and that the company had to pay him unemployment benefits after all. If you're looking for some summertime poolside reading, here's the court's decision (sorry about the spoiler alert!).
Perhaps some of you legal eagles are muttering, "well, isn't the court rewarding an act of hot dog thievery?" No, it seems: Koewler claims that nobody ever told him that the leftover hot dogs were off-limits, "'to be saved for Labor Day.'" It's possible that the idea of junky-ass hot dogs being saved up by a corporation for three whole months simply didn't register with Koewler, because it's just so gross and strange, to save hot dogs like that. In any case, Koewler was caught on a surveillance camera eating the franks and admitted to a manager that he ate them. Then someone called the cops, and he had to either sign a statement admitting to stealing the dogs or go to jail. He signed the statement and was fired. Then he sued.
It only took a month for an Indiana Department of Workforce Development deputy to determine that Koewler wasn't fired for any good reason, but Dillard's appealed that ruling. And when an administrative law judge upheld the deputy's decision, Dillard's appealed that as well. Will they now try to take this case to the Supremes? If they don't, dock workers will start eating shitty old hot dogs with abandon! And America will turn into a lawless state where no one feels safe going shopping for jewelry or kitchen appliances anymore.
Seriously, though: Just think of all the hot dogs Dillard's could have bought with all the attorneys' fees they'll have to pay. They probably could have held daily hot dog picnics for all the store employees for a whole year. At least their lawyers will eat well now (only the finest recycled hot dogs for them, surely).