Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance


Subject: Virgil C. Joiner v. LIRC and Milwaukee Health Services System (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee Co., May 14, 2012), aff'd, Case 2012AP1277 (Wis. Ct. App., per curiam, July 2, 2013) 

Please note that Wis. Stat. § 809.23(3) provides that, except as allowed therein, an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals is of no precedential value and for that reason may not be cited in any court in this state as precedent or authority. Summaries of unpublished Court of Appeals decisions are included in this collection as an informational service only, and their use contrary to 809.23(3) is not encouraged.

Digest Codes: VL 1005.01 Good Cause Attributable to the Employer, VL 1023.12 Quit due to Health of Employee or Family Member

 

 The employee worked 16 months as a counselor for an outpatient methadone clinic. The employee offered two reasons for quitting. The first reason for quitting involved what the employee believed to be undue criticism from her superior in front of co-workers during their response to a practice alert code. The employee accused her superior of being unprofessional and that he should call her into his office if wanted to discuss her conduct. Her superior told the employee to meet him in his office. The employee refused to do so and never spoke to anyone in management about the incident. The incident occurred approximately one month before she quit.

The second reason the employee quit involved her inability to work because of an injury that occurred at home on August 14, 2013. After sustaining injuries from a fall at home, the employee had difficulty concentrating and sitting at work. On August 22 the employee informed the employer that August 26 would be her last day of work. The employee failed to explore the possibility of workplace accommodations or a leave of absence for her injuries. The employee also failed to provide any medical evidence that would support her inability to perform work for the employer.

Affirming the ATD, the commission found that the employee quit with no exceptions.

Held: Affirmed by the Circuit Court and Court of Appeals. Each court found that substantial evidence established that the employee had not exhausted reasonable alternatives short of quitting by speaking with management regarding the director’s behavior or seeking an accommodation or leave after her non-work injury.

Each court also concluded that the ALJ conducted a full and fair hearing. The employee was represented by a law student at the hearing. When asked by the ALJ whether there was anything about the final incident that triggered the employee’s quitting that was missed or not covered, the employee’s representative continued to question the employee until he stated “that was my last question.”  The ALJ did not let the employee speak toward the end of the hearing because her representative had indicated that there was nothing further to discuss. The ALJ also limited some of the representative’s line of questioning regarding the employee’s health conditions that occurred between October and December 2010 because the conditions seemed “a little too far removed to be relevant to the final triggering for quitting.”

It was held that the discretion by an administrative agency is reviewed in the same fashion as the exercise of discretion by the courts. These types of decisions are left to the discretion of the ALJ and are accepted unless there has been an erroneous exercise of discretion. The court concluded that the limitations on the testimony were reasonable and the ALJ did not erroneously exercise her discretion. The circuit court specifically held that the ALJ focused the testimony throughout the hearing, given time constraints and the other substantial evidence of record.


Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.

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