10. Voluntary Leaving

Jameson Co v Thornhill – 10.102

Jameson Co v Thornhill
Digest no. 10.102

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Jameson Co v Thornhill, unpublished opinion of the Cass County Circuit Court, issued April 7, 2008 (Docket No. 07-909-AA).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Carla T. Thornhill
Employer: Jameson Company, Ltd.
Docket no.: 07-909-AA
Date of decision: April 7, 2008

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HOLDING: Under Section 29(1)(a) as revised in 2002, there is a presumption that a claimant left her employment voluntarily, and a claimant possesses the burden of proving either that she was involuntarily discharged, or she voluntarily quit her job with good cause attributable to the employer.

FACTS: Claimant pursued an argument with Employer and was told to leave employer’s office. Claimant admitted that she understood that she was not being fired. Claimant did not return to work but instead applied for unemployment benefits.  ALJ determined that Claimant was ineligible for benefits because she voluntarily quit her job without good cause attributable to the employer. ALJ’s determination was based on Claimant’s failure to meet her burden of showing good cause. The Board of Review reversed the ALJ’s decision on the grounds that the Employer had the burden of showing lack of good cause by the Claimant. Employer appealed to the Circuit Court.

DECISION: The Board of Review’s decision is reversed. Claimant is disqualified from benefits.

RATIONALE: Prior to 2002, Section 29(1)(a) did not address whether the claimant or the employer had the burden of proof in showing whether good cause existed. As of 2002, however, Section 29(1)(a) now provides that (1) claimants have the burden of showing good cause; and (2) there is a presumption that a claimant’s leaving was voluntary and without good cause. The Board of Review’s decision relied on case law from prior to the 2002 amendment to the statute and applied an incorrect standard to determine whether Claimant is disqualified under Section 29(1)(a).

Applying the correct standard, the evidence was reviewed to determine if the Board of Review’s decision could nonetheless be supported. The Court determined that Claimant failed to provide enough evidence to establish good cause. The burden was on the Claimant to prove that leaving her job was involuntary, but the Claimant failed to do so, as the evidence presented was “not compelling enough that it would have caused a reasonable person in the same circumstances to give up his or her employment.” There was not substantial evidence on the record to support the decision by the Board of Review.

Digest Author: Chris Kang
Digest Student-Editor: Nick Phillips
Digest Updated: 8/14