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

Subject: Koziel, Edward v. LIRC and Hackbarth Trucking Inc. (Dane Co. Cir. Ct., Case No. 89-CV-1231, October 6, 1989) 

Digest Codes: VL 1005   VL 1080.12

The employe, a long-term over-the-road driver, was, at his request, paid by the running mile. Several weeks before he asked the employer for the Labor Day weekend off. Labor Day was on Monday, September 5, 1988. On a return trip from the east coast to the Wisconsin/Minnesota area and just before the weekend he picked up a load in New London for delivery in California and drove to his home in Merrimac, in accord with his employer's instructions. The delivery date in California was such that he would have to leave his home during the weekend in order to make the required delivery time. In a telephone conference with the employer the employe considered that he was given an ultimatum that he would be fired when he was told to "either run it or don't work." He quit, contending that although he could have continued working for the employer, he had not been timely receiving his pay and that he had exceeded the legal limit of hours and miles he could drive. The employer did not appear at the hearing.

Benefits were denied at all administrative levels on the ground that the employe failed to exhaust reasonable alternatives and it was specifically found that he was not threatened with the loss of the job if he refused the work assignment.

Held: Reversed. Section 108.04 (7)(b), Stats., provides in part that good cause includes a request, suggestion or directive by the employing unit that the employe violate federal or state law. The Commission did not find the employer had not made such a request, suggestion or directive to the employe. Under such provision an employe need not exhaust reasonable alternatives to quitting. A request by the employer that an employe violate the law is, as a matter of law, good cause for an employe to quit.

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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