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Jack Thompson
Jack Thompson

8 : Circumstances

Section 8-1001(d) specifically states three situations where neither good cause nor valid circumstances exist. These situations are when an individual leaves employment: (1) to become self-employed; (2) to accompany a spouse to a new location or to join a spouse in a new location; and (3) to attend an educational institution. The statute requires that an individual who quits due to the above situations receive a total disqualification from benefits. Note: Section 8-1001(c)(2)(iii) provides that valid circumstances exist if the separation from employment is caused by the individual leaving employment to follow a spouse if:

8 : Circumstances

Quitting full-time work by retiring to continue part-time work does not constitute valid circumstances. A conclusion to the contrary defeats the purpose of the unemployment insurance program which requires full-time work. Clark v. ARC of Baltimore, Inc. 910-BR-06.

B. Specific Statutory Exclusions 1. Self-Employment The claimant became aware that the business where he worked was about to be sold and that the result would be his layoff. As a result, he attempted to start his own business. Since the claimant case up with his plan to become self-employed only after learning that his regular job was coming to an end and he would be soon left without work, the primary reason for the resignation was the impending layoff and not the desire to become self-employed. The claimant quit for valid circumstances. Diggs v. F.E. Vale, Inc., 373-BR-86.

3. Attending an Educational Institution The claimant clearly left her job in order to attend an educational institution. The claimant voluntarily quit without good cause or valid circumstances. Alkire v. Butler Service Group, Inc., 201-BH-90. See cases under Section 8-903. C. Religious Beliefs The claimant voluntarily quit for good cause where the employer had specifically agreed to accommodate the claimant's religious schedule and then decided that it could no longer do so. However, even if the employer had not previously agreed, the claimant would still suffer no penalty under Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana, 450 U.S. 707, 101 S.Ct. 1425 (1981). In that case, the Supreme Court held that where the duties of employment conflict with a sincerely held religious belief causing the employee to voluntarily quit, no penalty may be imposed under the unemployment insurance law. Marshall v. Center Insurance Agency, Inc., 1299-BR-91. The claimant's religious beliefs do not allow her to work between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. This belief was in conflict with the shift schedules she would have to work from time to time. As a result, she voluntarily quit. The claimant's resignation was for religious reasons and constitutes good cause. Hickey v. Maryland State Police, 223-BH-88.

III. Valid Circumstances - In General Section 8-1001 does not specifically define "valid circumstances." However, it does state that a circumstance is valid only if it is either a substantial cause that is directly attributable to, arising from, or connected with the conditions of the employment or actions of the employer or if it is another cause which is necessitous or compelling and leaves the employee no reasonable alternative other than to leave the employment. An employee is required to exhaust all reasonable alternatives prior to quitting only where the primary reason for leaving the job is personal. Exhausting all reasonable alternatives is not statutorily required under Section 8-1001(c)(1)(i) which deals with leaving work for a substantial cause. When a claimant leaves employment due to either the health of the claimant or the health of another individual for whom the claimant must care, the statute imposes an evidentiary requirement on the claimant. The claimant must submit a written statement or other documentary evidence of the health problem from a physician or hospital. There is no statutory requirement that the written evidence contain a statement that the claimant was advised by a physician to quit the employment. However, mere compliance with the requirement of supplying a written statement or other documentary evidence of a health problem does not mandate an automatic award of benefits. Shifflett v. Department of Employment and Training, 75 Md. App. 282, 540 A.2d 1208 (1988).

Necessitous or compelling personal reasons other than health problems may constitute valid circumstances. However, no necessitous or compelling situation can amount to a valid circumstance unless the claimant shows that there was no reasonable alternative other than to leave the employment.

A. Substantial Cause Connected with the Work When the reason for leaving is due to the conditions of employment, the standard for determining whether valid circumstances exist is set out in Section 8-1001(c)(1)(i). Under that standard, valid circumstances exist where the reason for leaving was "a substantial cause" connected with the conditions of employment. The "necessitous or compelling" standard is the standard which should be applied when the reason for leaving the job was for personal reasons, under Section 8-1001(c)(1)(ii). Wilson v. Vincent A. Butler and Associates, Inc., 1691-BR-93.The claimant worked as a part-time secretary/receptionist (1-3 hours per week) for the employer - a physician. When the claimant lost her full-time employment through no fault of her own from another physician - employer at the same location, she resigned her part-time position because she concluded that it was not worth the cost of travel to work for such a small amount of part-time hours. The Board ruled that the claimant's decision to quit and look for full-time work was not unreasonable and while not good cause, amounted to a substantial cause connected with the work for quitting constituting a valid circumstance. Chambers v. Henry H. Yue, 03657-BR-98 (1998).

The claimant testified to several instances which led to her decision to quit this employment. All were related to or connected with the employment. The claimant took her concerns to the employer on several occasions, but the employer was not as responsive as the claimant had hoped or wanted. The claimant did not pursue her complaints any further with anyone in a higher position of authority. Because the claimant still had options available to her when she quit, she cannot show that she had good cause for leaving this employment. She did demonstrate that her leaving was based upon valid circumstances. A five-week benefit disqualification is the more appropriate penalty under these conditions. Jenkins v. Upper Chesapeake Health Systems, Inc., 4901-BR-12.

1. Employee's Health The claimant suffered from a stress-related medical condition which was aggravated by stressful working conditions; her doctor suggested she quit long before her actual resignation. The job was not hazardous to the health of the average worker, and a finding of good cause is not supported. However, since the claimant had no reasonable alternative but to leave the job, valid circumstances are supported. Pinkney v. Host International, 142-BH-85.The claimant resigned because she suffered an allergic reaction to certain chemicals she was required to work with on the job. The claimant did not inform her employer of her problem prior to resigning. The claimant's reason for leaving was connected with the employment. Since the claimant did not give her employer an opportunity to correct the problem, however, the claimant's resignation was without good cause, but was for a valid circumstance. Weaver v. Murray Corporation, 57-BR-86.

The claimant, who worked as a stocker, seriously injured his neck in an off-duty car accident. He continued to work for several months while rehabilitating from the injury, until he began experiencing severe pain associated with the neck injury and the strenuous duties of his job. He informed his manager about this and requested lighter duty, however, none was available and the employer did not inform him of any other options. He subsequently quit the job. He provided medical documentation to the Agency. The Board held that he quit for valid circumstances. Kairis v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, 5584-BR-11.

The claimant was employed as a drywall mechanic for the employer. He originally applied for a position as a foreman, but was informed that position was not available. He accepted the drywall position to prove that he was reliable and dependable. He was hoping to advance within a short time. The claimant had a pre-existing condition of osteoarthritis in his knees. On his first day of work, he was assigned to work in a high-rise building and was prohibited by the foreman from using the elevator. The claimant told his supervisor that using the steps exacerbated his osteoarthritis. The claimant asked about transferring to another position, but was told none was available. The claimant was not told that he could use the elevator if he provided a note from his doctor. The claimant quit the job because he could not continue to climb the stairs. The Board held that a claimant quit for valid circumstances. Grant v. The Michael Group, Inc., 4089-BH-12.

2. Health of Another Individual The claimant's wife was suffering from a serious illness. She was living in North Carolina with their two children, but the claimant resided in Washington, D.C. Because of his wife's illness, the claimant resigned from his employment and moved back to North Carolina to help take care of his wife and children. The claimant quit due to a circumstance relating to the health of his wife who had to be cared for by the claimant, and this is a cause of such a necessitous nature that he had no reasonable alternative other than to leave. Williams v. National Applicators, 539-BR-89. IV. Burden of Proof Once it has been established that a claimant voluntarily quit the job, the claimant has the burden of proving that good cause or valid circumstances exist. To show good cause, the claimant must prove that the cause for quitting was directly connected with the conditions of employment or actions of the employer. To show valid circumstances, the claimant must prove either that the cause for quitting was a substantial cause directly connected with the conditions of employment or actions of the employer or, if the cause for quitting was personal, the claimant must show that the reason was necessitous or compelling and that the claimant had no reasonable alternative other than to quit the job. If the personal reason for quitting was due to a health problem (either the claimant's health problem or that of another for whom the claimant must care), the claimant has the burden of producing documentary evidence of the health problem from a physician or hospital. 041b061a72


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