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Fired Winnebago worker denied unemployment benefits after grabbing co-worker by the neck

WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES, INC. JOURNEY 42EFOREST CITY – A North Iowa man was denied unemployment benefits after being fired for grabbing a co-worker by the neck.

According to a public unemployment appeals record, Terry Lee Severe, age 54 with unknown address, was fired from his job at Winnebago Industries on November 8, 2013 because he grabbed a coworker by the neck three days earlier. The violence policy at Winnebago calls for discharge for inappropriate touching.

Severe was denied unemployment benefits and then appealed that decision.

The appeal file states that Severe was goaded by a female coworker before he grabbed her. She shoved a truck floor into Severe several times then passed by him and pinched his side. Severe then grabbed the coworker by the neck and shoved her away. Winnebago management then informed Severe of the zero-tolerance policy for violence and terminated his employment.

Personnel Supervisor Gary McCarthy and Production Manager Wes Bergland represented Winnebago in the appeals process, while Severe participated himself.

An administrative law judge concluded in January that while the coworker started the problem, Severe, “could have taken the high road and just walked away. Instead claimant resorted to a grab and a shove.”

This violated the zero-tolerance policy on violence, the judge ruled, and held that Severe was discharged for an act of misconduct and, as such, is disqualified for the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits.

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