The Colorado Toilet Paper Caper

A person who had worked for 26 years for the Community Hospital Association in Boulder, Colorado, was fired and denied unemployment compensation after admittedly taking remnants of toilet paper rolls that she believed to be trash, found on the floor and on a shelf above the toilet paper holders. The employee had been asked by a friend to collect the remnants so they could be sent to GI’s in Iraq, who needed small rolls that would fit in a pocket for use on missions. The employer said they had a zero policy on theft and fired the employee.
The employee applied for unemployment benefits. The employer, who had no written policy on theft, said that the coreless toilet paper rolls were purchased so they could be used almost to the end. The hearing officer found that the claimant had believed that the remnants she had taken were trash, but that the remnants nevertheless belonged to the employer, and taking them without the employer’s authorization constituted theft and disqualified the employee from benefits. The Industrial Claim Appeals Office upheld the hearing officer’s decision.
On appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals, the court reviewed numerous Colorado and other states’ decisions on similar issues and decided after extensive analysis that the case must bee remanded to the hearing officer for a finding of whether or not the employee acted “intentionally” and “knowingly” (legal words of art) without a belief that the remnants she took were trash.
Frankly, I am astounded that the state would expend the time and money on a case like this, especially given the end use of the toilet paper (no pun intended). If further developments in the Industrial Claim Appeals Office are publicly reported, I will write further on the final decision.

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