PUC v. Employment Department

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Employment Law
  • Date Filed: 11-19-2014
  • Case #: A153227
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Tookey, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & Hadlock, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 657.176(2)(c), a claimant is not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits when that claimant’s good cause for voluntarily leaving is based on medical necessity with no reasonable alternative and when the claimant has medical leave available through employment.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) appealed a decision of the Employment Appeals Board (EAB) awarding Gonzalez unemployment benefits after voluntarily leaving employment with the PUC. The EAB determined that Gonzalez had voluntarily left work for good cause under ORS 657.176(2)(c) based on the deleterious effect of work-related stress on Gonzalez’s health, specifically asthma. Gonzalez had a history of asthma prior to working with the PUC. After a law enforcement investigation began about Gonzalez, Gonzalez was transitioned to off-site work from home. Subsequently, Gonzalez’s asthma was exacerbated, and Gonzalez voluntarily left work. An administrative law judge initially denied unemployment benefits, so Gonzalez appealed to the EAB, who concluded that Gonzalez had voluntarily left work with good cause, that Gonzalez did not have any reasonable alternative for seeking medical treatment, and was not disqualified from unemployment benefits. On appeal, PUC argues that the EAB did not provide substantial evidence or substantial reasoning for its decision. The Court agreed with PUC, holding that there was no substantial evidence to support EAB’s decision that Gonzalez had no reasonable alternative to seek medical care than to leave his employment, in fact, Gonzalez had available medical leave, thereby contradicting EAB’s decision that there was good cause to leave employment. Reversed and remanded.

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