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Voluntary Quit - Section 8-1001 continued - Maryland Unemployment Decisions Digest

 

Voluntary Quit - Section 8-1001 continued

 
II. Good Cause - In General
The statute does not define "good cause." However, it does set out some guidelines for determining when there is good cause.

To establish good cause, the claimant must show that the cause for leaving is directly attributable to, arising from or connected with the conditions of the employment or the actions of the employer. Purely personal reasons, no matter how compelling they may be, cannot constitute good cause. Board of Education of Montgomery County v. Paynter, 303 Md. 22, 491 A.2d 1186 (1985).

However, if the conditions of employment cause an employee to violate sincerely held religious beliefs, there is good cause for quitting the job. The belief does not have to be consistent or logical, or shared by all members of the employee's particular religious sect, but it must be sincere. Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana, 450 U.S. 707, 101 S.Ct. 1425 (1981).

The claimant voluntarily quit her employment when the employer offered her another similar job at the same salary in the organization as an accommodation for the claimant's erratic arrivals at work due to "panic attacks". The claimant was being treated by a physician for this disorder. Once the claimant arrive at work, she performed her work satisfactorily. There was no evidence that the alternative offered by the employer was either punitive in nature or a demotion. The employer's action was a reasonable balance between management prerogative to make reasonable changes in the working environment while, at the same time, accommodating the claimant's disability. The claimant declined the "reasonable alternative" by the employer by resigning. The voluntary quit was without good cause or valid circumstances. Praylow v. Chesapeake Appraisals & Settlement Services, Inc., 01712-BR-99.

An employee's health problem is considered to be connected with the work only if it results from an on-the-job injury or if it is caused by a reaction to some unusual item used in the work place. For example, if a claimant quit because he suffered an allergic reaction to a chemical with which he was required to work and he informed the employer of the problem prior to resigning, then the claimant would have quit for good cause if the employer did nothing to correct the problem.

Other health problems are generally not considered to be connected with the employment and therefore are not good cause for resigning, even if the health problems prevent the employee from doing his job.

The statute specifically states three situations where neither good cause nor valid circumstances exist. These situations are when an individual leaves employment: (1) to become self-employed; (2) to accompany a spouse to a new location or to join a spouse in a new location; and (3) to attend an educational institution. The statute requires that an individual who quits due to the above situations receive a total disqualification from benefits.

Section 8-1001(a)(2) was added to the statute effective October 1, 1995. It states that a claimant who is otherwise eligible for benefits from the loss of full-time employment may not be disqualified from the benefits attributable to the full-time employment because the claimant voluntarily quit a part-time employment, if the claimant quit the part-time employment before the loss of the full-time employment.

Prior to being terminated from a full-time position as a secretary for a telemarketing company, the claimant resigned her part-time position as a "shampoo girl" in order to attend beauty school during the hours of 5-9 p.m. The Board applied Section 1002(a)(2)and held that a claimant who is otherwise eligible for benefits from the loss of full-time employment may not be disqualified from benefits attributable to the full-time employment if the claimant quit the part-time employment before the loss of the full-time employment. Khouri v. Hair & Things, Inc., 01768-BR-97 (1997).

 
A. Connection with the Work
 
1. Overall Conditions
The precedent decision of Baywood v. R.M.R. Corp, 408-BR-82 was overturned in 2000 by the Court of Appeals in the case of Total Audio-Visual Systems, Inc. v. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, et al. The Court of Appeals reversed a decision of the Board of Appeals and the Circuit Court for Montgomery County which held that a claimant who quit a job to accept another superior job had "good cause" for quitting. The Court ruled that such a reason for quitting employment could not be good cause because it was not directly attributable to, arising from or connected with either a condition of employment or an action of the employment unit. Total Audio-Visual Systems, Inc. v. DLLR, et al., 360 Md 387 (2000).

The Board of Appeals applied the ruling in Total Audio-Visual Systems, Inc. v. DLLR when it considered the precedent case of Gaskins v. United Parcel Service. In that case, the claimant voluntarily quit her job with UPS to work as a private investigator for an insurance company. Applying Total Audio-Visual Systems, Inc., the Board concluded that the claimant did not have good cause to quit her job; however, the Board construed the Court of Appeals decision in finding that if a claimant can show that the acceptance of the new job was "of such necessitous or compelling nature that the individual has no reasonable alternative other than leaving the employment", valid circumstances may be found. To establish "valid circumstances" the Board of Education of Montgomery County v. Paynter, 303 Md 22, (1985), 'necessitous or compelling' test is applicable. Gaskins v. United Parcel Service, 1686-BR-00 (2000).

The Board applied the Gaskins case in finding that valid circumstances might exist when a clamant quits his job to accept better employment. The claimant left his job for another paying 16% more salary, similar fringe benefits, but an 85% less commute difference. The claimant counter-offered the first employer - giving this employer an offer to match what was being offered him by the prospective employer. The first employer declined and the claimant accepted new employment. The Board applied Sinai Hospital v. Dept. of Employment and Training, 309 Md. 28 (1987) noting that "unemployment compensation laws should be read liberally in favor of eligibility. . ." The Board ruled the claimant's reasons for quitting his job were of such compelling nature that the claimant had no alternative other than leave his employment. Griffith v. Leonardtown Ford, Inc., 1258-BR-01 (2001).

Various decisions following Gaskins have held "valid circumstances" for voluntary quits of employment:

The financial package at the new job was substantially better than the former job with a 40% increase in salary, retirement benefits, a 50% increase in vacation time, and a substantial reduction in commute time. These factors were considered compelling, leaving the claimant no reasonable alternative to leaving the former employer. Purcell v. RTA Furniture Distributors, Inc., 749-BR-01 (2001).

The Board ruled that the acceptance of new employment was of such necessitous and compelling nature that the claimant had no reasonable alternative other than leaving his employment. "Valid circumstances were found when the claimant established that the "new" employment increased his income by 50%." Walker v. Rentacrate Inc., 904-BR-01 (2001).

Although overturned by the Court of Appeals in Total Audio-Visual Systems, Inc. v. DLLR, as to the finding of "good cause" for voluntarily quitting employment to accept other superior employment, Baywood v. R.M.R. Corp, 408-BR-82, remains significant in the analysis of "valid circumstances" where a claimant quits for new, superior employment. Whether there is a definite and bonafide offer of employment and whether the "new" work is at least as stable and as permanent as the position that a claimant leaves are relevant factors in determining valid circumstances. Baywood v. R.M.R. Corp., 408-BR-82.

The Board held that leaving one part-time job because it interfered with the claimant's more substantial part-time job supported a finding of "valid circumstances". The facts in this case were different than the facts in Gaskins or Total Audio-Visual Systems in that the claimant did not leave one job to accept another. Davis v. Harford County Public Schools, 1837-BR-00.

The claimant property manager resigned his employment after two years to seek employment in another field because he was no longer willing to cope with the hectic and demanding nature of his job. The claimant was well aware of these job conditions at the time of hire. The claimant had neither good cause nor valid circumstances for resigning. Gisriel v. Charles H. Steffey, Inc., 1085-BH-83.

2. Health
Where the claimant resigns due to a health problem resulting from an on-the-job injury, the reason for quitting is directly connected with the employment and constitutes good cause. Green v. Highland Health Facility, 438-BR-84.

The claimant suffered an on-the-job injury to her lower back. She returned to work but was supposed to be on light duty according to her own doctor and the company doctor. However, she was required to do regular, non-light duty tasks including lifting boxes, putting them on trays and bending, which she could not do. She explained this to her supervisor to no avail. She worked several shifts and then quit because she could not continue. The claimant voluntarily quit for good cause because she was forced to work beyond her physical capacity. Williams v. Maryland Cup Corporation, 545-BH-88.

The medical problems of the claimant were directly attributable to, arising from or connected with the conditions of employment. The claimant produced medical evidence to support her claim, and the employer produced no evidence to rebut this. The claimant had good cause for leaving. Stenner v. Mine Safety Appliance Company, 971-BR-88.

Where a claimant has a chronic ailment, and where conditions in the workplace are such that healthy persons are not usually affected, the claimant's medical problem is not considered connected with the conditions of employment. Ortiz v. Trappe Packing Corporation, 924-BR-92.

3. Distance
A transportation problem may be "connected with the conditions of employment" where the employer moved its location, and a claimant's resignation due to transportation problems caused by the employer's relocation may be for good cause. Thomas v. Washington Inventory Service, 899-BR-85.

4. Part-Time Work
Where the claimant left a part-time job of one night per week in order to conform to the requirements of her much more substantial part-time job of four to five nights per week, after efforts to resolve a schedule conflict were unsuccessful, the claimant has good cause connected with the total conditions of employment for leaving the inferior job. Pangborn v. Hannah's, 473-BR-82.

The claimant quit for good cause where she quit a part-time job because it was interfering with her ability to perform her full-time job. Pawlak v. Sally T. Mejia, M.D., 855-BR-87.

Quitting a part-time job in order to continue a full-time job, where the part-time work offered so few hours that it was uneconomical to continue, constitutes good cause. Wartzach v. Wendy's, 516-BR-83.

The claimant's resignation was without good cause or a valid circumstance where she left a 30-hour per week job which was to become full-time, in order to accommodate the hours of a much less substantial part-time job. Villalobos v. Paz Medical Association, 285-BR-86.

 
B. Specific Statutory Exclusions
 
1. Self-Employment
The claimant became aware that the business where he worked was about to be sold and that the result would be his layoff. As a result, he attempted to start his own business. Since the claimant came up with his plan to become self-employed only after learning that his regular job was coming to an end and he would be soon left without work, the primary reason for the resignation was the impending layoff and not the desire to become self-employed. The claimant quit for valid circumstances. Diggs v. F. E. Vale, Inc., 373-BR-86.

2. Accompanying or Joining a Spouse
The claimant resigned to accompany her husband, who was transferred to another state to take care of his seriously ill mother. The claimant's spouse, not the claimant, was to provide care for his mother. The claimant resigned to accompany her spouse to a new locality which is neither good cause nor a valid circumstance under Section 8-1001. DeLoach v. Anne Arundel County Schools, 807-BR-85.

Neither good cause nor a valid circumstance is supported where a claimant resigned employment to accompany a person to whom she is not married. Since the legislature does not consider it a valid circumstance for a person to accompany a husband or wife, it follows that the legislature would consider that leaving a job to accompany a person who does not have the status of husband or wife would be an even less valid reason. Beck v. Laurelwood Nursing, 198-BR-85.

The statute specifically provides that leaving one's job to join a spouse in a new location is neither good cause nor a valid circumstance; and the same is true with regard to other family members, unless the claimant has left the job in order to care for a health problem of the family member. Knotts v. Westinghouse, 562-BH-84.

The claimant resigned in order to relocate with her husband who moved to obtain a new job offering normal working hours without job stress. The claimant's husband, although not as healthy as previously, was ambulatory and able to work full-time at his new, less stressful job. The claimant's husband is simply not a person who must be "cared for" by the claimant in a medical sense, which was the sense intended by the legislature. Therefore, the case appropriately falls within that provision of Section 8-1001 which disqualifies claimants who resign to accompany or join their spouses in a new locality. Eastep v. Gaithersburg Day Nursery, 24-BR-85.

Where an employee quits to relocate out of state with an ill spouse, the important issue is whether the employee left primarily just to join the spouse or to care for the medical needs of the spouse. Stidham v. Kelly Health Care, 650-BR-86.

Where the claimant resigns in order to accompany her spouse who is being transferred by the military, neither good cause nor valid circumstances is supported so long as the claimant could have legally retained her job. Clarkson v. Army-Air Force Exchange Service, 61-BR-85.

Spouses of military personnel who lose their sponsorship and therefore become legally unable to continue in their jobs are not subject to a disqualification under Section 8-1001 of the law. Matthews v. U.S.A. - F.A. Center, Europe, 2279-BR-83.

3. Attending an Educational Institution
The claimant clearly left her job in order to attend an educational institution. The claimant voluntarily quit without good cause or valid circumstances. Alkire v. Butler Service Group, Inc., 201-BH-90.

 
C. Religious Beliefs
The claimant voluntarily quit for good cause where the employer had specifically agreed to accommodate the claimant's religious schedule and then decided that it could no longer do so. However, even if the employer had not previously agreed, the claimant would still suffer no penalty under Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana, 450 U.S. 707, 101 S.Ct. 1425 (1981). In that case, the Supreme Court held that where the duties of employment conflict with a sincerely held religious belief causing the employee to voluntarily quit, no penalty may be imposed under the unemployment insurance law. Marshall v. Center Insurance Agency, Inc., 1299-BR-91.

The claimant's religious beliefs do not allow her to work between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. This belief was in conflict with the shift schedules she would have to work from time to time. As a result, she voluntarily quit. The claimant's resignation was for religious reasons and constitutes good cause. Hickey v. Maryland State Police, 223-BH-88.

 
III. Valid Circumstances - In General
Section 8-1001 does not specifically define "valid circumstances." However, it does state that a circumstance is valid only if it is either a substantial cause that is directly attributable to, arising from, or connected with the conditions of the employment or actions of the employer or if it is another cause which is necessitous or compelling and leaves the employee no reasonable alternative other than to leave the employment. An employee is required to exhaust all reasonable alternatives prior to quitting only where the primary reason for leaving the job is personal. Exhausting all reasonable alternatives is not statutorily required under Section 8-1001(c)(1)(i) which deals with leaving work for a substantial cause.

When a claimant leaves employment due to either the health of the claimant or the health of another individual for whom the claimant must care, the statute imposes an evidentiary requirement on the claimant. The claimant must submit a written statement or other documentary evidence of the health problem from a physician or hospital. There is no statutory requirement that the written evidence contain a statement that the claimant was advised by a physician to quit the employment. However, mere compliance with the requirement of supplying a written statement or other documentary evidence of a health problem does not mandate an automatic award of benefits. Shifflett v. Department of Employment and Training, 75 Md. App. 282, 540 A.2d 1208 (1988).

Leaving work on account of pregnancy is treated the same way as leaving work for other health problems. Wimberly v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission of Missouri, 479 U.S. 511, 107 S.Ct. 821 (1987).

Necessitous or compelling personal reasons other than health problems may constitute valid circumstances. However, no necessitous or compelling situation can amount to a valid circumstance unless the claimant shows that there was no reasonable alternative other than to leave the employment.

 
A. Substantial Cause Connected with the Work
When the reason for leaving is due to the conditions of employment, the standard for determining whether valid circumstances exist is set out in Section 8-1001(c)(1)(i). Under that standard, valid circumstances exist where the reason for leaving was "a substantial cause" connected with the conditions of employment. The "necessitous or compelling" standard is the standard which should be applied when the reason for leaving the job was for personal reasons, under Section 8-1001(c)(1)(ii). Wilson v. Vincent A. Butler and Associates, Inc., 1691-BR-93.

The claimant worked as a part-time secretary/receptionist (1-3 hours per week) for the employer - a physician. When the claimant lost her full-time employment through no fault of her own from another physician - employer at the same location, she resigned her part-time position because she concluded that it was not worth the cost of travel to work for such a small amount of part-time hours. The Board ruled that the claimant's decision to quit and look for full-time work was not unreasonable and while not good cause, amounted to a substantial cause connected with the work for quitting constituting a valid circumstance. Chambers v. Henry H. Yue, 03657-BR-98 (1998).

The supervisor's repeated use of obscenities and his outbursts toward the claimant constitute a "substantial cause, connected with the conditions of employment." This is a valid circumstance under Section 8-1001(c)(1)(i). Where the reason for quitting is work-connected, as in this case, a showing of "no reasonable alternative" is not required. This requirement exists only where the reason for leaving is not connected with the work and the case is decided under Section 8-1001(c)(1)(ii). Meyers v. Allen Family Foods, Inc., 1667-BR-93.

The claimant, after having been laid off from his full-time employment, accepted a part-time position as a telemarketer. This type of work was not his regular line of work and he found the job to be very stressful. The claimant brought home only $50.00 per week after expenses. After working approximately three months, the claimant resigned. The claimant should not be totally disqualified from receiving benefits because he accepted a part-time job that was not suitable for him, after having been laid off. The minimal remuneration, plus the unsuitability of the work, constitutes a substantial cause, connected with the conditions of employment. Brown v. Mena Marketing Services, Inc., 1426-BR-93.

B. Necessitous or Compelling Other Reason

 
1. Employee's Health
The claimant suffered from a stress-related medical condition which was aggravated by stressful working conditions; her doctor suggested she quit long before her actual resignation. The job was not hazardous to the health of the average worker, and a finding of good cause is not supported. However, since the claimant had no reasonable alternative but to leave the job, valid circumstances are supported. Pinkney v. Host International, 142-BH-85.

The claimant resigned because she suffered an allergic reaction to certain chemicals she was required to work with on the job. The claimant did not inform her employer of her problem prior to resigning. The claimant's reason for leaving was connected with the employment. Since the claimant did not give her employer an opportunity to correct the problem, however, the claimant's resignation was without good cause, but was for a valid circumstance. Weaver v. Murray Corporation, 57-BR-86.

The claimant, who was within two years of retirement, developed arthritis of the ankle. This was documented by a doctor. As a result, she was unable to perform her duties and her commissions substantially dropped. She applied for a transfer to part-time work, but no transfers were available. This was a necessitous and compelling reason to leave and was a valid circumstance. Matheny v. May Department Stores, Inc., 644-BR-87.

An illness that has no connection with the work may still be a valid circumstance if the illness is a necessitous or compelling reason to leave work, and there is no reasonable alternative to quitting. Pearson v. Coca Cola Bottling Company, 2040-BH-83.

2. Health of Another Individual
The claimant's wife was suffering from a serious illness. She was living in North Carolina with their two children, but the claimant resided in Washington, D.C. Because of his wife's illness, the claimant resigned from his employment and moved back to North Carolina to help take care of his wife and children. The claimant quit due to a circumstance relating to the health of his wife who had to be cared for by the claimant, and this is a cause of such a necessitous nature that he had no reasonable alternative other than to leave. Williams v. National Applicators, 539-BR-89.

 
IV. Burden of Proof
Once it has been established that a claimant voluntarily quit the job, the claimant has the burden of proving that good cause or valid circumstances exist. To show good cause, the claimant must prove that the cause for quitting was directly connected with the conditions of employment or actions of the employer. To show valid circumstances, the claimant must prove either that the cause for quitting was a substantial cause directly connected with the conditions of employment or actions of the employer or, if the cause for quitting was personal, the claimant must show that the reason was necessitous or compelling and that the claimant had no reasonable alternative other than to quit the job.

If the personal reason for quitting was due to a health problem (either the claimant's health problem or that of another for whom the claimant must care), the claimant has the burden of producing documentary evidence of the health problem from a physician or hospital.

To establish either good cause or valid circumstances, the claimant must meet his burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

 
A. In General
When a claimant voluntarily leaves work, he has the burden of proving that he left for good cause or a valid circumstance. Hargrove v. City of Baltimore, 2033-BH-83.

In the case of an alleged voluntary quit, once the employer has shown that the claimant quit, the burden is on the claimant to show that the quit was for good cause or valid circumstances. In this case, the claimant did not meet that burden. Chisholm v. Johns Hopkins Hospital, 66-BR-89.

When a claimant accepts a new position in the company and works at it for over a year, that position becomes the status quo, and the claimant would have to show a change in the new position in order to prove good cause. Bacod v. Bendix Field Engineering Corporation, 567-BR-92.

The claimant testified emphatically (but not credibly) that she was discharged. The claimant in fact abandoned her position and was considered to have voluntarily quit. Since she did not admit that she quit, she had no evidence to meet her burden of proving good cause or valid circumstances for quitting. Bailey v. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, 1700-SE-93.

B. When Health Reasons Are at Issue
Section 8-1001(c)(2) specifically provides that "an individual who leaves employment because of the health of the individual or another for whom the individual must care . . . shall submit a written statement or other documentary evidence of that health problem from a hospital or physician." Therefore, where the claimant fails to provide medical evidence of alleged stomach cramps caused by stress and overwork, neither good cause nor valid circumstances are supported. Davis v. Maryland Homes for the Handicapped, 25-BR-84.

A letter from a psychologist is sufficient to meet the requirement of Section 8-1001 when the claimant is referred to the psychologist by her physician, and the psychologist works at a clinic where the clinical director holds an M.D. Turner v. Prince George's County Board of Education, 1189-BR-92.

A written statement from a chiropractor does not meet the requirements of Section 8-1001, which provides that in the case of a health problem, the claimant must produce written or other documentary evidence of that health problem from a physician or a hospital. While the Board would normally construe this requirement liberally to cover all health care professionals, the Board is bound by a decision of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals which specifically held that a chiropractor is not a physician. Beverungen v. Briele, 25 Md. App. 233, 333 A.2d 664 (1975). The decision in this case is prompted only by the specific ruling of the Court and the Board is not ruling that other recognized health professionals connected with physicians and hospitals cannot supply sufficient evidence under Section 8-1001. Rice v. Baltimore City Board of Education, 1025-BH-82.

The statute does not require evidence that a physician "directly advise" a claimant to quit employment. Therefore, where the claimant establishes that he or she is suffering from an ailment made worse by the work performed, valid circumstances may be supported. Williams v. Prince George's County Board of Education, 461-BR-85.

The claimant resigned because of personal problems which resulted at some point in quite serious psychological consequences. However, since the claimant did not submit a written statement or other documentary evidence of a health problem from a physician or hospital, as required by Section 8-1001, the claimant did not meet the burden of proof. Bruce v. People's Security Life, 885-BH-87.

The claimant voluntarily quit due to a medical condition but failed to prove that the condition was sufficiently serious to leave him no other alternative but to leave his job. The claimant voluntarily quit without good cause or valid circumstances. Staples v. Giant Food, Inc., 685-BR-91.

C. Regarding Reasonableness of Employer's Actions
The claimant quit his job rather than face disciplinary action by the employer. The claimant knew he had been charged with alleged sexual harassment of female employees, but the employer withheld from the claimant the names of the complainants as well as the exact nature of the complaints. Because of this, it was impossible for the claimant to prove that the employer's suspension was unreasonable. In this case, the employer had the burden of proving that the disciplinary action was reasonable. The employer failed to meet this burden of proof. The claimant quit his job for good cause within the meaning of the statute. Hull v. Waste Management of Maryland, Inc., 677-BR-89.

The claimant quit because she received a reprimand. The claimant failed to prove that the reprimand was unreasonable or that it was given in a degrading, insulting or harassing manner. The claimant voluntarily quit without good cause or valid circumstances. Daughton v. Oxford Realty Services Corporation, 414-BR-91.

The claimant requested four days off and the employer would only agree to give her three days off. The employer's actions were reasonable given all the circumstances, including the claimant's failure to get a relief supervisor for the fourth day. After the employer refused the claimant's request, the claimant walked off the job and quit. The claimant quit without good cause or valid circumstances. Hebron v. Montgomery General Hospital, 78-BR-87.

 

Voluntary Quit - Section 8-1001 continued

 

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