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

Subject: Kurt W. Roskopf  v. LIRC and Richfield Volunteer Fire Company, Case No. 05-CV-289 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Waukesha Co., October 31, 2005)

Digest Codes: VL 1037 - Quit to take other job - s. 108.04(7)(p)

The claimant was laid off from a full-time job, but continued to have a part-time job (as a volunteer firefighter) and was eligible for partial unemployment benefits.  He then decided to move his residence;  this caused the end of his employment with the volunteer fire department, which required its members to live within a certain distance of the firehouse.  After he had moved and his employment ended had ended, the claimant took another position with another volunteer fire department in his new community.  The department  determined that the separation was a disqualifying quit.   An ALJ affirmed the quit finding, concluding that the exception contained in s. 108.04(7)(L), for a person who quits to accept other work and earns certain minimum wages in that work, did not apply because the claimant did not earn enough in the subsequent employment. On appeal, LIRC affirmed. 

The claimant appealed to circuit court.   In this appeal, he argued (for the first time) that the exception in s. 108.04(7)(p) could have been applied to him.  That exception applies in the case of a person who while claiming partial unemployment quits work to accept other work offering a greater average weekly wage; unlike (7)(L), the exception in (7)(p) does not have an earnings requirement in the subsequent position. 

The circuit court issued a decision setting aside commission’s decisions and remanding, ordering the commission to issue new decisions after considering the potential applicability of (7)(p).

On this remand, the commission issued a new decision re-affirming that the separation had been a quit and concluding that 7(p) had not been applicable because the claimant had not quit his part-time firefighter job in order to accept another job which had been offered him, but merely quit his part-time firefighter job and then after that, as a matter of mere chronology, obtained another such job (in the community he moved to).

The court then took the case back under consideration, pursuant to the reserved jurisdiction, and issued a new decision.

Held:   The court upheld LIRC’s interpretation of 7(p):

"The Commission's interpretation of [(7)(p)] was that there had to be an offer of another job before the termination of the original job.  The Commission determined from the record that the plaintiff did not have an offer of another EMT job before 'quitting' the Richfield position.  I agree with the Commission's interpretation of the statute requiring the employee to have the other job in hand makes sense. The Commission's findings of fact support its opinion that plaintiff did not qualify under this exception to the 'quit' rule."

However, the court ultimately reversed the outcome on other grounds (specifically, based on an interpretation of s. 108.04(7)(a) developed sua sponte by the court under which the court concluded that the quit did not disqualify the claimant from eligibility for benefits based on his previous full-time employment).

[LIRC Decision]

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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