April 2017 Briefly: An Unemployment Case Analysis

April 13, 2017 Peg Elofson

unemployment case analysis

Backgound

The claimant left voluntarily for personal reasons after attempting to rescind her resignation. She was disqualified from benefits upon a finding that she quit without good cause.  The claimant appealed, and a hearing was scheduled before an administrative law judge.

At The Hearing

The Employer’s Evidence:  The employer’s witness testified that just prior to the scheduled end of a leave of absence, the claimant called the employer’s witness and indicated she was resigning for personal reasons and would not be returning to work.  One week later, the claimant called the witness and attempted to rescind her resignation because she needed the work.  The witness informed the claimant that her position had already been filled, but they would be able to place her in another, similar position.  A few days later, the claimant sent a note from her doctor placing her off work for another week.  Near the new return date, the employer’s witness attempted to reach the claimant but was unsuccessful.  The claimant never returned to work.  The employer’s witness offered an exhibit consisting of notes that she had taken during her phone conversations with the claimant.  The notes were consistent with her testimony.
The Claimant’s Evidence: The claimant testified that she had to extend a medical leave of absence.  The claimant denied offering her resignation, denied attempting to rescind her resignation, and testified that she was fired because she failed to return from her leave of absence on the original return date.

The Hearing Decision

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that the claimant quit voluntarily without good cause connected with the work, and she was disqualified from benefits. The ALJ found the employer’s testimony to be more credible than the claimant’s, particularly because the employer’s evidence was clear, consistent, and supported by the witness’ contemporaneous notes.  Because the claimant offered no testimony regarding her reason for leaving work, the claimant’s resignation was without good cause connected with the work. The claimant disagreed and appealed, arguing that she was discharged.

The Board of Review Decision

The Board of Review (The Board) agreed with the ALJ’s decision and the claimant remained disqualified from benefits.  The Board found that the ALJ’s decision was reasonably based on the record of evidence.  The Board deferred to the ALJ’s findings of fact and credibility determinations and found no reason to overturn them.

Takeaways

  1. The first finding that must be made in a hearing on the claimant’s separation from employment is the nature of the separation.  In this case, the employer testified to conversations with the claimant regarding the claimant’s resignation and her attempt to rescind it.  The claimant testified that she had been fired.  The ALJ was charged with determining which was correct before deciding whether the separation was disqualifying. In this case, the employer’s testimony regarding her conversations with the claimant was supported by notes she had made at the time of the conversations.  Her testimony was found to be more credible than the claimant’s.  In similar situations, supporting documentation can be crucial.
  2. To be allowed benefits in a voluntary quit case, a claimant must offer a reason for leaving which the state considers to be good cause under state law.  In this case, the claimant offered no testimony regarding her resignation. The employer testified that the claimant gave personal reasons for leaving when originally offering her resignation.  After the finding that the claimant left work voluntarily, the next finding was whether the claimant’s reason for leaving work could be considered to be good cause under state law.  The claimant had the burden to prove she quit for good cause.  Because the claimant offered no evidence regarding her reason for quitting work, the ALJ had no evidence upon which to base a finding that she had quit for good cause.  The claimant was unable to prove that she had resigned for a reason which would allow benefits, so she was disqualified.

To learn more about how Equifax can help your organization with unemployment case management, contact Pete Krieshok at pete.krieshok@equifax.com.

Download a PDF version of this bulletin here.

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