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Roadhouse v. Employment Department

Court of Appeals of Oregon

February 23, 2017

Ryan L. ROADHOUSE, Petitioner,
v.
EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT; and Masu Sushi, Inc., Respondents.

          Argued and Submitted September 3, 2015

         Employment Appeals Board 2014EAB0947

          Kirsten Rush argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the brief was Busse & Hunt.

          Denise G. Fjordbeck waived appearance for respondent Employment Department.

          No appearance for respondent Masu Sushi, Inc.

          Before Duncan, Presiding Judge, and DeVore, Judge, and Flynn, Judge.

         Case Summary: Claimant seeks judicial review of a final order of the Employment Appeals Board determining that claimant "voluntarily left work without good cause" and was therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits under ORS 657.176(2)(c). The board found that claimant could have continued to work for employer and alternatively, that claimant's belief that he was going to be discharged did not constitute "good cause" to leave work. Claimant argues that the board's findings are not supported by substantial evidence and are not rationally related to the board's findings of fact. Held: The board's determination that claimant could have continued working for employer was not supported by substantial reason.

         Reversed and remanded.

          FLYNN, J.

         Claimant seeks review of a final order of the Employment Appeals Board denying him unemployment insurance benefits because it found that claimant "voluntarily left work without good cause." ORS 657.176(2)(c). The board based its determination that claimant voluntarily left work on its finding that claimant could have continued working for employer after he refused to attend a meeting that employer had scheduled for claimant's day off and at which claimant believed he would be fired. We review that order for "substantial evidence, substantial reason, and errors of law." Franklin v. Employment Dept., 254 Or.App. 656, 657, 294 P.3d 554 (2013). We conclude that the board's determination that claimant could have continued working for employer is not supported by substantial reason. We reverse and remand on that basis, without addressing the board's decision that claimant lacked "good cause" to quit.

         BACKGROUND

         We summarize the facts from the board's findings and from the undisputed evidence in the record that is not inconsistent with those findings. Claimant had been employed as head chef at employer's restaurant for almost four years when, just before the weekend of Valentine's Day, a coworker told claimant that employer's owner[1] had arranged a secret meeting with another coworker to discuss firing claimant. Claimant did not ask further questions about the meeting because it was just a "rumor" and because he needed to get the restaurant through the busy weekend. However, claimant expected to be "let go" after he finished his work on Sunday. Claimant testified that his belief was reinforced when he noticed that employer changed the locks to the restaurant's doors on Sunday and saw employer give out a new key to one of the employees. Employer left the restaurant Sunday evening before claimant finished his work and without giving claimant a key.

         Claimant left the restaurant at about 11:15 p.m. on Sunday and, at approximately 11:45 p.m., received a text message from employer asking to meet with claimant the next morning, February 17, at 9:30 a.m. Although claimant was not scheduled to work again until February 19, claimant sometimes came into the restaurant on his days off to do inventory. He responded to the message and asked to meet at 10:00 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. Employer responded, "[O]kay see you then."

         After scheduling the meeting, claimant questioned the coworker who reportedly had attended the secret meeting with employer and was told that employer had asked if the coworker "could take over [claimant's] ordering duties" and had said that claimant was being "fired" because employer "can't afford [claimant's] salary ...


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