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Gaines v. Employment Department

Court of Appeals of Oregon

September 7, 2017

Barbara J. GAINES, Petitioner,
v.
EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT; and King Harvest Natural Foods, Inc., Respondents.

          Argued and submitted September 21, 2015

         Employment Appeals Board 2013EAB2188

          Dallas S. DeLuca argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Markowitz Herbold PC.

          Judy C. Lucas, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent Employment Department. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General.

          No appearance for respondent King Harvest Natural Foods, Inc.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Hadlock, Chief Judge, and Egan, Judge.

         Case Summary: Claimant seeks judicial review of an Employment Appeals Board decision denying her unemployment benefits on the ground that she voluntarily left work without good cause. Claimant challenges that determination, arguing, in part, that the board's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and substantial reason. Held: The board's order lacks substantial reason because it includes factual findings that are inconsistent and it fails to articulate a rational connection between those fndings and its conclusion that claimant quit her employment without good cause.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [287 Or. 605] HADLOCK, C. J.

         Claimant seeks judicial review of an Employment Appeals Board decision denying her unemployment benefits on the ground that she voluntarily left work without good cause. Claimant challenges that determination, arguing, in part, that the board's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and substantial reason.[1] For the following reasons, we agree that the order lacks substantial reason. Accordingly, we reverse and remand to the board for reconsideration.

         Because it is helpful in understanding the issues in this case, we begin by setting forth the pertinent legal framework. ORS 657.176(2)(c) disqualifies a person who "[v]oluntarily left work without good cause" from receiving unemployment benefits. The Director of the Employment Department has adopted rules that the department follows in implementing that statutory directive. Under those rules, "good cause" for voluntarily leaving work "is such that a reasonable and prudent person of normal sensitivity, exercising ordinary common sense, would leave work." OAR 471-030-0038(4). "Work" is defined as "the continuing relationship between an employer and employee." OAR 471-030-0038(1).

         The rules also explain the difference between voluntarily leaving work and being discharged from it:

"The distinction between voluntary leaving and discharge is:
"(a) If the employee could have continued to work for the same employer for an additional period of time the separation is a ...

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