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updated 7/7/2011 8:22:24 PM ET 2011-07-08T00:22:24

The Indiana Court of Appeals says a department store wasn't justified in firing a worker who took two leftover hot dogs from a company picnic, so it must pay him unemployment benefits.

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The court ruled Thursday in the case of Nolan Koewler, who was fired from a Dillard's store in Evansville a year ago.

Dillard's hosted a Fourth of July cookout for employees. Afterward, a manager ordered the leftovers stored in a break room freezer until Labor Day.

The next day, Koewler took two hot dogs and ate them, an act caught on surveillance video. He claimed he never heard the instruction to save the hot dogs, and the three-judge panel sided unanimously with him.

The opinion didn't reveal the amount of unemployment benefits at stake.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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