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

Subject: Grace Lutheran Foundation Inc. v. State of Wisconsin, LIRC and Dale J. Flug  (Case No. 88-CV-642, Wis. Cir. Ct., Eau Claire Co., July 26, 1989)

Digest Codes: VL 1005.01 - Cause attributable to Employer; generally; VL 1080.26 Working Conditions - Transfer - Good cause attributable to the employer may be present even where no egregious fault or bad faith on part of employer, if employe's quitting is a reasonable reaction to a condition that was within employer's power not to produce - here,  good cause to quit upon transfer to less desirable position

Grace Lutheran operated a nursing home and also provided inhome health care. Flug was employed by Grace Lutheran as an inhome health care worker; he also independently operated an adult foster care home at his residence. A resident in Flug's home made allegations of wrongdoing on Flug's part (essentially, that Flug allowed other residents to walk around naked). When Grace Lutheran learned of those allegations, it suspended Flug from his employment, with pay, for a period of two weeks. In that interim, the allegations were investigated both by the police department and the district attorney's office. It was established that the allegations were baseless. Grace Lutheran was then willing to allow Flug to return to work, but only to a position within its nursing home, where Flug would be under closer supervision than he had been when working as an in-home health care worker. Grace Lutheran's reason for insisting upon this transfer was, essentially, that Flug might be susceptible, in the future, to allegations of wrongdoing. 

Flug refused the transfer for two reasons; his duties as an inhome health care worker had been performed on first shift and the nursing home job was on second shift, a shift Flug had difficulty working during previous employment with a hospital. Flug's second reason was the fact that the nursing home position would require him to undergo further training. Grace Lutheran terminated Flug's employment because he refused the transfer. 

The Commission held that Flug's refusal of the transfer constituted a quit, and further held that such quit was with good cause attributable to the employer, in that it was a reasonable reaction to an unreasonable transfer. 

Held: Affirmed. The Commission's findings of fact are supported by credible and substantial evidence and the Commission's conclusion of law is reasonable. In determining whether an employe quit with good cause attributable to the employer, the focus is upon the reasonableness of the employe's actions. Good cause attributable to the employer may be present, even where there is no egregious fault, or bad faith, on the part of an employer, if the employe's quitting is determined to have been a reasonable reaction to a condition that was within the employer's power not to produce.

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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