Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance

Subject: Kevin Roberts (Hearing No. 95002755LX) v. State of WI LIRC and Wisconsin Steel Industries, Inc., Case No. 95-CV-667 (Wis. Circuit Court, La Crosse County, September 26, 1996)

Digest Codes: VL 1007.01

In February 1992, the employe injured himself while working as a carpenter for the employer. He underwent several surgeries and, after the final one, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in physical therapy. In October 1994, he entered into a limited compromise agreement with the employer and its worker’s compensation insurer which provided for payment of six semesters of the employe’s degree program in physical therapy. The employe had already moved 214 miles from Muskego to Onalaska in January 1994, and had enrolled at UW La Crosse. The employer sent the employe a letter in January 1994, asking whether he had quit his employment. The employer had light-duty work available for the employe as a security guard. The employe’s attorney wrote back that the employe had not quit but had not yet been released for work by his physician. On 1/20/95, the employe’s physician released him to full-time work with some physical restrictions, and in May 1995, the employer received notice that the employe had filed an unemployment benefit claim.

The employe argued that by signing the limited compromise agreement, the employer had effectively discharged him. He also argued that he had been discharged because the employer offered him reemployment as a security guard rather than as a carpenter. The commission found that the employe constructively quit by going back to school and moving 214 miles away.

Held: Affirmed. The employer did offer work within the employe’s physical restrictions, but the employe chose to move away and attend school. His actions were inconsistent with continuation of the employment relationship.

Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.

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