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Oregon Public Utility Commission v. Employment Department

Court of Appeals of Oregon

November 19, 2014

OREGON PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, Petitioner,
v.
EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT and JOSE R. GONZALEZ, Respondents

Argued And Submitted September 16, 2014

 Employment Appeals Board, 12AB3103.

Jona Jolyne Maukonen, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the opening brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, and Denise G. Fjordbeck, Attorney-in-Charge. On the reply brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, and Jona Jolyne Maukonen, Assistant Attorney General.

Roger Hennagin and Roger Hennagin, P.C., filed the brief for respondent Jose R. Gonzalez.

No appearance for respondent Employment Department.

Before Sercombe, Presiding Judge, and Hadlock, Judge, and Tookey, Judge.

OPINION

Page 137

[267 Or.App. 69] TOOKEY, J.

The Public Utility Commission (employer) seeks review of a decision of the Employment Appeals Board that concluded that claimant voluntarily left work with good cause and was not disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. See ORS 657.176(2)(c).[1] In particular, the board found that claimant did not have the reasonable alternatives of seeking medical treatment or care and taking medical leave and concluded that claimant had good cause to leave work due to the effect of work-related stress on his health, specifically, the recurrence of asthma. Employer argues that the board's order lacks substantial evidence and substantial reason, and contends that a reasonably prudent person in claimant's position would not have quit his job. Claimant raises one " alternative cross assignment of error[,]" which we reject without discussion. We review the board's order " for substantial evidence, substantial reason, and errors of law." Franklin v. Employment Dep't., 254 Or.App. 656, 657, 294 P.3d 554 (2013). We agree with employer that the board's order lacks substantial evidence and substantial reason. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

Except as noted below, we summarize the facts from the board's findings and " the undisputed evidence in the record that is not inconsistent with those findings." Campbell v. Empl. Dep't., 245 Or.App. 573, 575, 263 P.3d 1122 (2011). In the 1980s, claimant developed asthma. His condition was treated with medication, and it " basically went away" for a number of years--that is, " his condition was sufficiently controlled such that he did not require medical treatment." In 2004, employer hired claimant to work as

Page 138

" administrator of safety reliability and security division."

At some point on or before April 17, 2012, employer was presented with some " concerning" information about claimant. A law enforcement agency commenced an [267 Or.App. 70] investigation, instructed employer " to keep the 'concerning' information confidential," and directed employer to withhold from claimant information about the reason for the investigation and law enforcement's involvement in the investigation.

On April 17, 2012, employer's representatives, including claimant's supervisor and the human resource manager, " met with claimant and 'duty-stationed' claimant at home, with pay, for an indefinite period pending the completion of an administrative investigation, [and] then escorted him from the building." Claimant asked, but he was not told, why he was duty-stationed at home. The only " 'work' that was expected" of claimant while he was duty-stationed at home was to be available to employer by telephone during work hours. Claimant continued to accrue ...


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