Voluntary Quit - Section 8-1001
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 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).
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.
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.
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. Accompanying or Joining
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.
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,
2. 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
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
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,
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,
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,
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
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.